i feel terrible. all of my plans hinged on riding the elevator down from the 21st floor of my apartment building to my car in time to get to the theater before it was too late. but it came to a halt on the 13th floor where this woman walked on. I nodded my usual silent hello and she nodded back. she then started to make gestures that i think were referring to my thick down parka. she reached her arms into a vast circle, as if she were hugging the trunk of a redwood tree. then she raised her arm to point up, and i think she was trying to tell me something about the snow. And then she moved her legs up and down and I could not figure what that meant, but I think she was planting an image of someone tromping through snow. it all felt so frustrating because i could tell she had something urgent to tell me, or maybe just banter.
I just got terribly confused by all of the postures and gestures and wordless vocal sounds. There were so many of them, and in such tight a space. at parties, when people play charades, i am usually the very worst. but i think charades are vital exercises. we live in an age where it is vital to develop fluency in wordless languages.
i hope she was not frustrated with me by the time we reached the ground floor, or I hope she did not think of me as not the friendliest neighbor. Maybe I could have just intervened and kindly tactfully asked her to write down what she was trying to communicate, even if it became 12 pages of writing. that’s what i used to do when i couldn’t speak.
but how condescending would that have been? pretty condescending i’d say.