Sunday, October 22, 2006

I got my first comment spam in all the almost three years of this website yesterday. I feel like I've finally arrived.

When I got to the bus stop yesterday I found the old man sitting there, waiting. His eyes swam a bit as he looked at me, trying to place me, and then came into focus like the slotting of puzzle pieces. "Ah, Red," he said to me, "Come sit down here." (Red is what all old men call me. My hair is my most recognizable feature.) I sat and asked if he had been waiting long, and he patted me lightly on my right leg like we have known each other forever.

We chatted aimiably, clearly pals from way back, and across the street a small lady pushed a cart with one hand, the near wheel smaller than the far wheel and both of them squeaking in rhythm. Her other hand held a cane on which she balanced the majority of her small weight, and I though of a conversation I had just the other day with some friends. They were discussing how they never see the elderly around the city, and I realized that I see them everywhere. I wondered, briefly, if I am continually hallucinating geriatrics. But the man's presence was solid and warm and I knew that he, at least, was real.

He paused, and I brought my attention back to our conversation. He put a hand on my chin and turned my face toward him, and said, "Child, you have the saddest eyes I've ever seen." I shrugged uncomfortably, but since this sort of directness is something he has earned by virtue of his many years, I answered. I told him that most days it doesn't feel like I have any skin at all, that the sound inside my head is like the noise between two strangers dancing, and that I have been here too few years to feel so old. I knew that he was itching to give me advice; it was the reason he started the conversation in the first place, but kindness is hard to find and I will take it wherever I can.

I was right. He took my right hand in his soft left one and chuckled lightly. "Red, it's girls like you I wish I'd chased when I still had the legs for it." He told me that in his experience the people that start out feeling everything too much never stop, but that if they can get through it it'll be worth it in the end.

I had no answer--I never have an answer--and so we sat there quietly, hand in hand, until the bus came.

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