Downtown the other day, after dropping my daughter off to her piano lesson, I headed for my favourite café. Seated in front of the café at one of the outside tables, I noticed the tall lanky man, alone. He was wearing sunglasses.
As I walked by, he nodded a hello and I returned an audible one. I continued on, I heard him speak to me as his gaze remained on the busy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. I turned back “Pardon me?” I asked with extreme politeness, the kind you use when you are terribly uncertain. I am an expert extrovert, thus, quite socialable and have no trouble approaching people and conversation. Nonetheless, I am not accustomed to speaking with homeless people and found myself a bit careful and edgy - out of my element.
“You wear your class right here” he said as he gently and deliberately moved his enormous hand across his protruding forehead. I had no idea what he meant. I asked him “Is that a good thing or bad?” He began an intellectual pursuit explaining class and its purpose and how we all struggle to attain it. But it appears easy to me…
I went in for clarity and said poignantly “Do I appear as a snob?” He shook his head. “No, far from it, far from it.” he repeated and smiled. I thanked him for the apparent compliment, although I still did not really know what he meant. I went into the café. I got myself a juice and headed back outside - it was a beautiful afternoon.
I decided to sit with this man. He was a bit surprised but welcomed me. I told him I wrote about him. He was embarrassed and yet flattered at the same time. He lifted his glasses off of his face as if in an effort to better see me. After listening to me awhile, really listening and nodding his understanding, he explained that should I really write about him, most people would not believe what would be said. I believed him, though I do not know him.
His eyes looked young, free of age lines, and closed pensively when he spoke. His voice remained calm as it filled with passion, and, deep in thought, he rubbed the crease between his eyes with his large thumb. His words were delivered slowly, softly, and with purpose through rotting and rather filthy teeth. His hands did show age - weathered and also quite dirty. His smell was that of the elderly I have spent time with. All combined, it was rather difficult to decide how old this man really was. He could very well have been my age. Then it is my turn to listen. He spoke of spirituality, independent thinking and the right to express one's opinion freely. He spoke of war, oppression and most of all, truth. “It is all a journey; this is my journey.”
It was time for me to go. I stood to say goodbye and in a backwards sort of way, I began by offering my hand and introducing myself. He took my hand, looked me in the eye, paused and then said “Sleep deep in the crease; you are a Mother- the Mother of all Mothers.”