There’s a woman who sits at a bar off 4th Ave & 12th St. She has white hair with one strand of its original black color that refuses to turn old. You can always expect to find her there between the hours of 9 and 12, at which point, much to her audience’s chagrin, she pays her tab and leaves. She has a way of talking that inspires eyebrows to raise. Whether relating  a waxing experience gone wrong, or the time she climbed half way up Mount Kilimanjaro; she’s never without a story to tell.

All in all, she’s got an attractive face; the kind you know would have turned many heads back in its day. She doesn’t use make up, but always wears rings. At face value she’s the kind of woman who shares a bit too much of herself, especially in the context of men between work and their exodus home. She has gentle eyes that promise trust, the type that encourage you to speak without fear of judgment or betrayal. And amidst the static sound of dish rags wiping tabletops, and cocktails shaken and stirred, she’ll listen intently and stoke the coals of your worries just enough to keep you going without receding at the remembrance of her status as a stranger.

What makes a conversation with her so compelling is the way in which she has a library of similar experiences to yours, ready to weld your grievances into one. She feels for you as though your emotions somehow dictate her expressions, rippling with genuine concern. In this way you could say she does her part to save the world; shedding small anecdotes of her life and casting them into the heart of New York City.

It’s only when you’re walking home with a head full of wine, and a heart a little less weary that you ruminate. When breathing plumes of cold air and revisiting the words exchanged with a silvery woman in the back corner of an otherwise average bar, that you realize; she is without shape, ever flowing, ever calculating of the information she shares. Maybe it’s the alcohol wearing off, but something tells you that she will remain so, an enigma, forever.

Because like a lake reflecting its surroundings, she knows that vanity is best used to repel interest in what truly lies in her depths.

-Anam Sufi

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