Delusions and vulnerability
Thank you for the many comments, stars and hearts for Evan’s birthday. I share your appreciation for his innocent loveliness, I’m humbled by your kindness, and I fear I will never get around to thanking each person who commented. Thank you now, here.
Today was a balmy-weather blue-sky day, a catch-up day, a day for the business of living. Laundry, bills, phone calls, a trip to the gym with some time on a recumbent bike. In the afternoon, a walk to the hardware store for picture wire. On the way I strolled through a park and the light caught this young woman with bright pink hair, walking her pug in her retro hippie trousers, trailing scarves on either side of her backpack. I thought of Sara Evans and the way she often catches people in late-day light.
Moments after I took this picture and put the camera back in the bag, a tall young man passing me suddenly stepped into my space, stomped one foot, and said “Hey!” with an edgy manic energy that frightened me. I gasped, stepped back, automatically shielded my heart with my right hand. Suddenly he was apologetic. “I didn’t mean to scare you; I was just singing,” he said, taking his earbuds out and moving back to a more respectful distance.
I breathed deeply a couple of times and told him, “You reminded me of someone who once attacked me.” I was aware there was no one else in the street near us.
He looked grave and said softly, “I know what that feels like. I really do.” He seemed contrite, and he moved toward me as if he wanted to talk, but there was still something in his demeanor that made me uneasy, so I nodded goodbye and walked on, relieved to get away from him. After I’d taken about ten steps, I heard footsteps running my way and wheeled around to face another young man jogging past. He was oblivious, but I was shaking and had broken out in a cold sweat. It got me thinking about vulnerability, people who experience extreme states, the anonymity of cities, and the old white-haired woman I appear to be. Each of us: the man with the earbuds, the jogger, the pink-haired woman with her pug, and I--we go along in our private worlds, nursing our private thoughts and our delusions about who we are, brushing against each other’s realities and assumptions.