Remnants of a Beauty

I’m on the train once again, when a girl in her 30s? 40s? clearly an addict, is methodically asking for money.

Now, I don’t carry cash during the day, because by the time I get home, it’s gone, given away to the various needy souls one encounters in their travels.

Just the two minute walk from my house to the subway, I pass four on the street, and two more inside the terminal.

Asking for help is pretty chronic as they wallpaper the streets, and though many are scammers, many, alas, are not.

But back to the present. This woman of an undetectable age due to her addiction, is a junkie of the worse kind since she no longer even tries to hide it, her skinny arms as they grab onto the overhead straps, showing fresh tracks that will need replenishing soon enough.

No one pays much attention to her, since the upper crust, cozy in their seats, feel little charity toward drug addicts considering it an over indulgence over a sickness.

I see it differently being somewhat of an addict myself, that only by the grace of God, didn’t get that far out of hand.

As usual I have no money, but do have a bottle of Evian in my bag, I gently offer to her. I’ve learned to proceed cautiously because sometimes if it’s not money, they get mad. Had a woman toss coffee back at me once when I offered it instead of cash.

Despite her condition, her pants falling, hair in tangled disarray, she demurely accepts it.

It was then I see who she is, or sadly used to be, as a beatific smile shoots across her face.

How beautiful, remnants of a time when drugs had yet to steal the best of her.

“Thank you, thank you,” she says, as she floats, like an apparition, down the car.

I feel sad, holding back my emotions till I’m off the train, tearing up, wrapped in humility knowing…

coming from where I do, going through all I’ve been through, that could have so easily have been me.

But for the grace of God go I.  images-1.jpeg


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
This entry was posted in alcohol, Beauty, Culture, grace, humanity, New York City, women, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Remnants of a Beauty

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, you are able to look past the exterior and see the beauty that once was. I wonder if that poor soul is able to remember her happier days. How sad.


    • She truly is at best, a facsimile of her former self. Skin and bones. Scarred. It just breaks your heart Skinny because she wasn’t always that way. Where did she veer off the road. How does it happen. I was a survivor who clearly had someone watching over me. But why doesn’t she? Sigh


  2. A thoughtful post, Susannah. When I lived in the NYC metro area scenes like this would break my heart. I justified handing out money with the idea that maybe some of these folks were angels. To the point of getting mad, I remember coming out of the Carnegie Deli with half a sandwich. Like you, I had no small bill cash so I offered the sandwich. The guy threw it on the ground and berated me for being so stupid. “I can’t drink a sandwich you asshole,” pretty much stuck in my mind. After that, I always kept one-dollar bills in my pocket when coming into the city. If some were angels it was well worth the contribution.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorryless says:

    I can imagine the beauty of a kid that had been stolen away to the depths of addiction in the way you write her, and its heart numbing.

    Reminds me of the baby- because nineteen . . she was- a good friend of mine tried to save. She got her into one of the houses she had opened but it didn’t take. Things did not end well.

    There but for the grace . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a very common tale, those that didn’t make it, or didn’t take as you do so aptly put it. I remember a girl in high school…Cindy Toten was her name. Tiny and gamin to a fault who ODed. I can still see her in her coffin like a sleeping doll. She was 17. Have many stories such as this that for some sad reason stay fresh. 😔

      Liked by 1 person

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Beautifully written. I can’t imagine their stories, and the fact she accepted your offer with a smile is very touching. Cheers to your kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So true … thank you for this sensitive, painful, thoughtful post about the realities we pass by – and some of us train ourselves to not see or not notice or not try to understand – in the city every day. It is always a heartache for me. I’ve given money. I’ve given food. I’ve asked someone if they wanted me to buy them something to eat so they can sit INSIDE the cafe and get warm on a winter day. Most people are glad for human connection. Like we each other. Not pity or shaming, but understanding and compassion without judgement. I don’t know what led them to what led them to this. I know that – like you – with all I’d been through and the turns some things could’ve taken, it could’ve been me. Thank you for your humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very touched by this. Humanity. Sometimes it’s feels like I have too much. You see yourself so often through others. To have to panhandle just to hopefully make it through one more day. The city is exploding with souls like her. The mentally ill. Kids sleeping on sidewalks with their dogs they’d never leave behind. My heart that’s already held together with epoxy breaks a little more every day. Sigh

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you. I SO hear you!
        And it is a battle, because while my heart breaks every day for them, and it can feel like too much to notice and be in the presence of and let in the reality of so much suffering and despair and need and lost-souls and loneliness and isolation and trauma … I also don’t want to shut it off. It will feel worse to shut it all off. To become numb to it. The cost of THAT is too high, too. So it is a balance – to know and not dissolve into misery, to see but not be undone, to help where I can. To be as human as I can. Thank you for your humanity, again. Na’ama


      • I recall an essay Anne Lamott wrote about visiting India and it’s extreme poverty. I’m afraid that’s where New York is headed. We’ll have the same sub culture we’ll become immune to, like in New Delhi where they gather like pigeons as you walk down the street. Sounds dramatic I know. So hope I’m wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hope you are wrong, too!
        The chasm between the haves-more-than-they’ll-ever-need and have-nots is certainly growing.
        I’ve declined going to India because I didn’t think I could manage the poverty there. The children, especially, but generally, the level of despair. Even amidst the beauty. I didn’t believe I could do it.
        I had not, yet.
        I hope that New York isn’t heading to that … because it would be awful. And I don’t know that I would be able to tolerate that … In fact, if it ever does happen, I hope I would not be able to tolerate that … and would be among those doing what they can to fight it … for I would no longer be myself if that happened … Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We shall hope and pray for better things.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Amen to that! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dale says:

    In your beautiful way, you gave that woman her humanity for a moment. It feels like there are more and more like her who have fallen through society’s cracks for whatever reasons. If only we could save them all.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Eilene Lyon says:

    This is a very sad portrait, not just of an addict, but of a society that just can’t get motivated to deal with the problems leading to this. In the Netherlands we did not see this sort of thing at all. They have a strong safety net for all citizens, even providing a living stipend. They house the homeless and presumably treat the addicted.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You are the angel in the city. I think God sent you to see and feel and respond. You strum those chords in us who read your beautiful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Never think ill of someone…you don’t know what fight they are fighting. Here you do, so you are able to feel compassion. My hope is that I get to the point in which I feel compassion for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes. You are a stitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You won fair and square. You are an impeccable wordsmith yourself. If I fall down, I wonder if I’ll feel the bounce before I shatter.


  12. This really resonated with me. I also live in NYC and often wonder what the story is behind the countless homeless people I encounter every day. Beautifully written, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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