The Same Woman

There are these two old Mexican ladies that wander around near where I live and I can’t tell them apart by sight. Now, the fact that they’re Mexican isn’t of material importance to the story aside from being a descriptor. Some other descriptors for the two is that they’re both a bit chubby, and have weathered, wrinkled faces that look like a leather blanket wadded up in the bottom of a hamper. I’m not sure if they actually make leather blankets, but they definitely shouldn’t because that sounds like a horrible idea. The two women also can be seen walking at all times of the day and night. They both change clothes regularly, so it doesn’t seem as if either of them is homeless, they’re just sort of omnipresent. The only slight difference that I’ve spotted so far is that one carries herself with an air of confidence, her shoulders a little more back, her spine a little straighter. The other is batshit crazy.

While both walk around with the same metal personal shopping cart that old ladies seem to just have despite the fact that I’ve never seen one in a store, anywhere, ever, I’ve always wanted to sneak a peek at the contents of each. In the cart of the lady with good posture, I’d expect to find a few things she purchased at the grocery store, maybe some laundry, and a book to read while she waits for the dryer to finish stealing tiny bits of fuzz from each one of her articles. For some reason I think the book would be a romance novel, with some shirtless man embracing a woman in an impossibly flowy red dress, the two staring hungrily at each other. The type of book that uses the word passion way too often.

I know that the other cart is mostly full of pieces of cardboard with gibberish written on them. I mentioned above that both women are Mexican, and that fact is mostly immaterial, and it still rings true. I mention it again only because I speak rudimentary Spanish, and am able to identify the language even if I don’t know all of the words. But whatever is written on those pieces of cardboard isn’t Spanish, or English, or any other arbitrary collection of words. They’re just shit squiggles in blue and green ink. I’ve dedicated somewhere between 20-30 total minutes trying to decipher these things, but I’m more likely to solve the Liber Primus than I am these pieces of cardboard.

She wanders about our neighborhood, posting these illegible messages on stop sign poles and other various places. At times she brings her own pole and holds up the secret message, shouting additional nonsense at anybody in proximity. If she is homeless, she’s aggressively homeless.

My intrigue in these ladies is twofold: 1) I want to know what the insane woman is trying to communicate to me. Clearly it’s important to her. Or she’s fucking nuts. Either way, there’s something interesting that I want to find out. 2) I feel like there’s at least a double-digit percentage chance that they are in fact the same bipolar woman. On face, this would just immediately take me back to point one, because if she is bipolar, her two personalities have not ever met. On the level of somebody else living in your house with you and you just not knowing because they keep opposite hours, wear all of the same sizes of clothes, and have friends and family that look identical to yours. But that amount of crazy packaged into one small grandmother it exceedingly interesting.

I’ll likely spend more minutes of my life staring at the pieces of cardboard the next time she zip ties them to a pole that I happen to cross by in my daily puttering, and if I find out what is so important that she sometimes shouts it at moving cars, I’ll let all of you know.

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