grocery · job · neighborhood

Nicole Agape

We catch each other’s eye as I emerge from the break room. She stares and smiles. She is pretty and wears funky glasses, so I at first mistake her for my friend Leah. Why else would anyone stare if not for familiarity? But it’s not Leah.

“Hello?” I proffer.

She takes a second. “Oh—I know you!” to which I cock my head.

“You—you’re walking all the time and I SEE you all the time. Sometimes with your dog, me with mine!”

Ah—makes sense. I’m the North Park perambulist. Didn’t know it deserved an agape mouth, which she wears.

“That’s me,” I muster. “I walk everywhere.”

Her friend is sorting through the Malbecs and makes an affirmative nod.

“I didn’t know you worked here,” she says.

“Well, it’s only been three weeks; 14 years in town. I love it here. Yeah, I like walking.”

She adjusts her smile. “Good to see you.”

Affirmation from veritable strangers is the best affirmation, the fact that people see each other. I recognize everybody, yet it feels out of body when people recognize me. As if I were an invisible specter, dog on chain, floating the sidewalks.

“I thought you were my friend Leah at first,” I offer, “But hello—nice to meet you.” I’m making my fingers into spectacle shape to remark her glasses.

She says, “Sorry—didn’t mean to stare,” laughing.

“What’s your name?” I ask. This is only appropriate. Before, any sort of human interaction would have me in a cold sweat, but I’m now comfortable in my own skin. ‘Who are you?’ and ‘How are you?’ are two important questions we need ask. We can’t walk around in anonymity, unheard.



We amicably shake hands. Instantly I like her. Her friend chooses an Argentinian red, and they say: “Well good to meet you” together. I bid them adieu.

“Likewise. See you around the neighborhood.”

This how we make friends. Nice to meet you, Nicole.

15Sandra Dewbre, Amber Lovin and 13 others1 CommentLikeCommentShare