I've never asked her story. It's none of my business. Some days she looks rougher than other days. She may drink or drug. I don't know. I'm not in the lecturing business and it wouldn't change anything if I were. I had a spare rain poncho left over from my son's graduation which seemed like a good idea. Mostly she can't take much because where would she keep it?
I asked her name because I saw her pretty often. I've also asked the name of the guy in South Station wearing the Burger King purple velvet robe who hands out the Metro newspaper. He's Dorrell. It's a thing I believe. If you see someone every day, you should learn his or her name. We all need to be known. And sometimes hugged. But Valerie shares my first name, which caught me by surprise. It's not a very common name, although it's certainly not rare. Knowing we shared a name made me think about her in a slightly different way. Maybe it was the "there but for the grace of God go I" thing. Maybe I wonder how anyone can live with so few material possessions. Sometimes I just look at the water and try to see what she sees.
And here we are, riding on the same Blue Marble, day chasing day, seasons meaning a lot more to her than to me. She knows where to find air conditioning or heat, of course. But she has to think about it in a totally different way from the way I do. For her it's life and death. The shortened hours of sunlight mean danger, along with cold.
Meanwhile I mumble about the Red Line and dread shoveling snow in front of my own home, and digging out our two cars. Every once in a while it's good to send a thought and a prayer to the other Valerie. It keeps my feet a little more grounded to have to stop and appreciate how very much I have.