I never get tired of watching new arrivals do the meet and greet. It's sort of like watching an experiment in microbiology, witnessing the seemingly random interactions between the individual parts of the whole, like cells having awkward encounters before finding some common ground to grow on.
That's not my best work, but I'm tired right now. Sue me.
I got to see Rachel and Elizabeth reunite this morning. They have been friends for almost as long as Rachel and I have been, and hearing the cries of joy from both of them at finally seeing the other alive and well did a world of good for my heart.
Rachel has changed a lot from the girl I used to know. I say girl, though we are the same age, because she has always had this amazing blend of impish childlike glee at new knowledge and experience, and the moderately cynical edge of a person who is old beyond their years.
I gave her the tour as soon as the sun came up, really showing her the details of the compound. I can see glimmers of the smart-ass in her eyes at times, almost hear the snarky comments she wants to say. It seems, though, that months of living in a small building with lots of other people, having to scrape for food and supplies while avoiding detection has given her a reserve that frankly makes me a little sad. I miss the incredibly bad puns and her ability to play on words. It seems much of the carefree joy that once nearly defined who she was in my mind has vanished. But really, who can blame her?
What kind of person do I see before me now?
She's still got a sense of humor. I have been an easy target for her to crack jokes at, and any laughs are welcome. She's clearly suffered from the events of the last few weeks, carrying faint lines around her eyes from the constant fear and stress. But along with that is a determined set to her face, body language that radiates a confidence and decisiveness that I never noticed before, or never existed until now. She's a bit jumpy as all new arrivals tend to be. It's hard to be plunged into a new situation so far from your comfort zone. She's dealing with it better than most.
On our walk this morning, we moseyed over to the theater my brother built. He's been decorating it for Halloween in the hopes that we can manage to have some sort of party. Given that we all woke up to the first real frost of the season today, I don't know how comfortable such a gathering would be, but it's always been a favored holiday in my family, and was top on my mom's list. And of course, if there is any time in which we need to make fun of all the things that go bump in the night, it's now.
Thank god it's cold enough that there is little to no chance of zombies hitting us.
So while Rachel was checking out the theater, a few of the younger kids made their way over to us, to ask what we were planning for the weekend. Dave and I are still trying to work that out, and when the little ones asked us about trick-or-treating and candy, we both got a little frazzled. Candy isn't something we have much of, and what sugar we have needs to be rationed for cooking. The kids were looking sort of crestfallen, and I was trying to think of something reassuring to tell them when Rachel saved me the trouble of hurting my brain.
She knelt down with them, beckoning the group of five to eight year olds close to her, circling her arms around them.
Rachel proceeded to explain to those kids that while candy was all well and good, the best part of Halloween is the stories. She regaled them with a dozen titles to frighten and horrify, building up a sense of awe and dread that I found very impressive given the early dawn light and lack of anything scary about her as a person. She talked them into being excited to hear gruesome tales all night long, and to look forward to those stories on Devil's Night, far scarier than Halloween.
All in all, it was a pretty masterful bit of storytelling and theater. I was even convinced.
I don't know how Rachel is around kids normally, having never seen her in such a domestic situation, but this morning she did a better job inspiring and creating interest in them than I have ever seen anyone do. She's always longed to be a writer, but now I see that she is truly a storyteller. Her words and attitude combine in some kind of strange alchemy to capture her audience and make them believe in what she says, to see it clearly in their minds.
It was damn impressive. I'm really looking forward to it now, knowing the treat we're in for as Rachel tells stories.
Now, I need to see if we can find some candy...