July 8, 2004 by Allen George
I’m still writing the Mexico entry by the way…
There are always opportunities in life that you’ve missed. Some, you regret. Others, you accept and shrug off. This, like many I’ve passed up, falls into the former category.
Last term I lived on the 2nd floor of UW Place (Wellesley Court South). My customary practice following lectures was to return home with Allister around the back of Wellesley Court South.
One rainy day I saw her.
Her knee-length black overcoat fit her tall, slim phsyique perfectly; neither hanging loosely nor betraying too much of her figure. Feet, shod in black pumps moved unhurriedly across the ashpalt, the hem of her meticulously pressed black pants moving ever so lightly from her ankles. In that moment, this unknown woman wrapped in black, from coat to socks, this woman was the epitome of grace.
And her hair.
What hair! Long, thick and black, it flowed down her coat, a veritable river graced with a soft, gentle shine. As she glanced sideways at the bus-stop her hair rippled slightly, catching and scattering what little light there was on that overcast day. I was forced to consciously widen my field of view and in doing so noticed the umbrella she held in her right hand. A bright red umbrella. Her movements turned the umbrella, allowing the clasp, its color shocking in the gloom to rest against her hair. Bright red, it lay againt her black locks.
I can’t explain it, but watching the effortlessness with which she carried herself, the contrast of the scene, my breath caught in my throat. I was undeniably different, transported away from my worries, from the gloomy reality surrounding me. And more than ever I had the urge, the need to photograph her. I wanted her just the way she was; back to me, walking away, holding a bright red umbrella with its clasp against her hair. To capture that moment forever, to preserve the clarity of that instant in time, I wanted that. I never could take that photograph.
As I write this, I can still picture her perfectly. Caught in midstep, glancing at the bus-stop, red umbrella framing her head, its clasp a breath-taking contrast against her liquid hair. And I wish, so fervently wish, I had my camera that day.