Rushing along to the train station yesterday, i saw a little girl lost, a tiny girl, maybe two years old. She was calling and calling, looking up the street and down, her whole body yelling, i am distraught. There were others on the street, but no one nearby, no one responding. By the time i came alongside her, she had gone round the corner of a building, turned away from me, perhaps looking back the way she had come.
I set down bag and briefcase, and sat on a low curb. I called to her, and she turned and looked at me, the embodiment of worry. I gestured with my whole arm, come, and she barrelled into me at top speed, arriving in a full body hug. Unhesitating trust and profound relief: finally.
Soon two others stopped, a young man in a car, and a young woman with a cell phone. Is she speaking Mandarin? the woman asked, and soon the little girl was speaking to her urgently and clinging to her. She is looking for her grandfather, the woman told me. The woman's cellphone rang, and the two wandered up the alley between the buildings, hand in hand.
Hard to surrender an attachment so soon after making it. I hesitated for a bit, standing and watching them go. Then I picked up my bag and briefcase again, and carried on. I saw them once more, standing in the parking lot of a small mall, the woman still on the phone, the little girl holding on to her while scanning the passersby.
A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini and Richard Lannon is one of the best books I've ever read, on how and why it is that we need each other. My son Isidore also highly recommends it.