barbara lived on the 4th floor at 340 e 55th st. she weighed at least 350 pounds and had been living in her $192.00 a month rent controlled apartment for over 35 years. barbara had saved every paper she had read in those years and kept them in piles, which consumed her apartment.
it would take her nearly an hour to climb up to the 4th floor and she therefore spent a lot of time in the hallways and stairwells. On the occasions you ran into barbara she had you cornered. her size didn’t allow much room to pass by and she would take advantage of the opportunity forcing – me to listen to her diatribe about all the wrongdoings in the world, the dirty politicians and the suffering.
she didn’t much like men and was convinced that they all wanted to rape her. barbara was in constant fear of being raped and had several extra bolts on her door to keep all the rapists out – she implored me to do the same. barbara had cats. in her apartment the cats burrowed within the maze of newspapers and kept her company.
she once told me she had an 11 pound tumor in her stomach and didn’t even know it.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman