Friday, November 28, 2008


There's a, young woman, who lives on the other side of the canal. We stumbled upon her last week when we were wandering through the brush. I think she was washing clothes. Or maybe vegetables. I don't remember. I scarcely remember the details of her shack -- it seemed like all the others. Corrugated tin, slabs of wood, rags hanging on a line. She was squatting between the footpath and the shack, engrossed in whatever she was doing until we walked by.

She looked up, so I smiled. I've gotten into the habit. They usually give me a little smile back and maybe an "hola" or a "buenos dias" or whatever, but not this girl-woman. What I got was the most amazing, radiant, beam-me-up-scotty, transfix you, siren song, magic potion kind of smile back. If smiles were currency (and who hasn't talked about someone's Million Dollar Smile?) she would be a veritable Fort Knox.

I went back through that footpath the other day and there she was, again. (Of course she was there! It's her house, isn't it?) She was in an "outbuilding" if I can call it that: a structure with one wall and a tin roof. And there it was again!

So you're thinking, big deal. Everyone smiles. Some smile big time.

But this was different. Outside of our family, I have only seen that smile once or twice before. That no-holds-barred smile. A smile with full abandon. And I'm sure it's not even proportionate to the emotion behind it, because I DO believe we share similar emotions. It's just that some people have the ability to really, really, really let go when they smile. And there are the rare few who can do this casually, to people they don't even know, only provoked by another smile.

I want to tell her how beautiful her smile is. How it really does light up the world. How it makes me want to get to know her. How it makes me want to walk by her house every day. How I think of it when other things threaten to bring me down. Damn my shyness! Damn my inability to speak the language! Damn me for even thinking of language!

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