Something this morning made me look twice as he walked by, which is strange because I see him all the time. You may know him, he’s a middle-aged white guy with furry arms and aging muscles who totes a shoulder bag filled with event posters. He tears the outdated ones off telephone poles, then hangs up new ones with four strikes of a staple hammer. This morning his bald head was already red from the early sun. He passed by as he entered the cafe. A minute later he came out with a glass of ice water and took a seat at a picnic table. He looked around at the growing crowd of people, at the autumn-turning leaves, the anxious dog barking, then he took a sip. There was something special in the way his eyes closed and how he took a deep breath after swallowing. It was something that transcended refreshment. Even the way he set the cup down was mystical. It called to mind an appreciation for simple things. A sense that everything was going to be OK. The man sat by himself, just looking around and sipping. And as I watched, I had trouble swallowing the final bites of my cranberry scone. My shoulders hung low and my hands sat heavy in my lap. I thought of forgotten people. My friends far away. My family and what-not. I was suddenly inspired to scribble a list of things I want to do with my life. Things like, take more photos of clouds. Get a dog. Cover my shitty tattoos with black boxes.
Fact is, I really wanted to approach him. Maybe offer to buy him a cup of coffee. Not because I thought he couldn’t afford it himself, but because he had something — something I wanted to be closer to. And yet still, I just sat there. Occasionally looking up from my notebook to see what he was doing. I felt a different kind of peace knowing he was sitting across the lawn. And I wrote and wrote. Until eventually I looked up and he was gone. His glass cup still sitting on the table top. Empty.