When I walked past the open door, she stood inside, her arms loaded with damp towels and unlaundered sheets. I felt a pang. I was headed out to explore San Francisco with my husband and grandsons. And she would spend her day in the hotel, cleaning up after us and other vacationers.
Just before I pushed the elevator button, I heard a voice behind me.
I turned, and she stood back the hallway, her arms now free of towels and sheets. Before she spoke again, she searched my face.
“Ma’am,” she said. “Come see my view.”
And in case I didn’t understand her accent, she beckoned me into the room and over to the window.
“Look,” she said, “what I see every day.
And from that window, she gave me a tour of the city.
We marveled together over the Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded in fog, and the hills that define the city and Alcatraz Island squatting in the bay and pelicans flying over the water. Her voice took a tone of reverence.
“See there,” she said, “the Palace of Fine Arts.”
Squinting I could see a domed rotunda with golden colonnades. And I decided to convince my grandsons to visit this taste of Rome. She pointed toward Coit Tower, stretching straight and tall into the clouds. And we looked together at the blue-tinged mountains beyond the bay.
“My view every day,” she said, as she turned back to the towels and sheets. “Thank you for looking with me.”
But my thanks was to her. All day this conversation followed me. I didn’t forget it the next day, or the next. This is a conversation I’ll carry with me, hoping to remember especially when I need to widen my view.