It took me a while to notice the young woman. The first time I saw her walk past my peripheral line of sight outside of the restaurant where I was eating dinner with a couple of other people, I thought she was walking to her car. Then I saw her turn around and walk back towards the entrance of the restaurant, and back and back over and over again. I thought it would be impolite to record exactly how many times she paced back and forth. Watching her over the course of nearly half an hour, though, I got the distinct feeling she was walking back and forth feeling that she was about to be stood up. Some people pace because they are thinking, but in this case it seemed that the young woman was pacing because of boy problems. She touched her hair somewhat nervously, and given the fact that she kept on pacing back and forth within my view, my people watching tendencies got the best of me and felt compelled to watch her and try to get some grasp of what was going on through her nonverbal language.
I am no stranger to people watching , and my attention to this person drew the attention at the other people who were at the table with me. My mother, of course, like me had a great deal of enjoyment at people watching and was similarly a student of the young woman’s body language. She looked like she was attempting to have a conversation with herself. Her gait was uneven, her hand motions occasionally herky-jerky, and as her waiting grew longer she would time her pacing to avoid having to interact with the people coming out of or going into the restaurant in twos and threes. One could see her catastrophizing and coming up with worst case scenarios as the time she waited grew longer. Would she get into her own vehicle, and did she have a vehicle of her own to get into? None of that was clear. What was clear is that she had her attention focused mainly on the road towards the interstate, and expected someone to come from that direction, it would seem. While we watched and I sipped on my ice water, the other person at our table suggested we go and talk to the young woman. As I often feel in such circumstances, I demurred because I felt it would be a waste of time. I would only be getting in the way.
While all of this pacing was going on outside, and while those of us inside were waiting for our food to come, the music that played in the restaurant gave the strong feel of being a soundtrack to what we were watching. Perhaps in a nod to the ungentlemanly conduct of whoever was making the young woman wait, Paula Cole was singing “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” At least as movingly, Christine McVie sang in her hopeful but often melancholy fashion that she had a love that had a hold of her. Naturally, I was able to identify fairly strongly with the feelings the young woman was showing. No one likes being made to wait for an interminable length of time, one’s thoughts moving from hope and patient expectation towards the gloominess of despair. There was no question that, however shy and timid I was about introducing myself to the pacing young woman, that I had a strong feeling of empathy for what aspect of her suffering I was able to see and fathom.
At long last, around 9PM, a motorcycle driver came into the parking lot of the restaurant and parked near where the young lady had been pacing. The quick in her step was obvious. The conversation she had with the late fellow was shrouded by the bushes and it was impossible to tell how much was said. Was the young woman glad that he had finally come? Was she impatient to return home? Was she angry at him or more relieved that he had been so very late and had at length arrived? It was impossible to tell. After a bit of time, though, the young woman could be seen putting on her motorcycle helmet and sitting behind him on the bike, her arms around his waist as they drove off into the gathering darkness.
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