It’s been a while since I have posted anything here. Not much has changed in the 3 years I have been absent, but I have learned to manage well.
Today I witnessed something as I was people watching—like the well trained theatre kid I was brought up to be—while accompanying my grandmother to a lunch at a Senior Citizen Center. My grandmother, amidst in conversation with the other ladies at the table, talking about far gone days of their youths mentioned some of the music she used to listen to; music like ACDC, Pink Floyd, Iron Butterfly and the like (which is vastly different to what she listens to today which is primarily gospel). It may have been this conversation that drew a particular attention to a man resting against a wall. The man physically weak and frail, sporting a Marines War Veteran baseball cap, and the look… the look on his face spoke volumes.
He had obvious signs of aging, tired eyes, skin soft and hung, lips quivering. The expression on his face as he scanned the room of its occupants—not in search of—but as if he was fumbling through his own personal thoughts; possibly of mortality. The look on his face reminded me of the dramatized looks of woe on the faces in Renaissance paintings. Every now and again he would look up, like Christ on the cross, as if contemplating his own mortality. He would then return his gaze on the people eating their fish lunches continuing his thoughts.
Then something happened, something that changed the whole visual picture. Someone greeted him with a hello—and he smiled.
Smiling at people that greet you isn’t an alien concept, but it changed him. His whole demeanor transformed. His eyes shrank, his skin tightened as he smiled, he sat up off the wall to address the other person. And in doing so he began to melt into the crowd around him. He was no longer the focus of my analysis—he was part of a whole. This had forcibly tightened my focus on him as he spoke to the other person and returned greetings. My grandmother then called my attention away from the man to pull me into her conversation. After a bit, I looked back to see where the old man was now and he was nowhere to be found. Not along the wall, not at any of the tables eating.
Now I’m not claiming spectral or spiritual shenanigans, I’m sure the man was really there and just left in the time my attention was on my grandmother. But I can’t help but feel I shared a moment with a complete stranger. And caught a glimpse into a world that very aware of its approaching end.