I was tired so I went to lie down on the sidewalk. I went up against the side of the building so people could walk around me. I know this is where people pee when they are drunk late at night.
But I wanted to lie down so I did.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years in NYC. Once you lie down on the sidewalk, it’s like you put on a magic invisibility ring. Nobody sees you and it feels freeing.
Like, for a brief moment, you become untethered to the world and can watch it and catalog it like an alien sent down to observe right before the big invasion.
We were on the upper east side of New York City. Everyone there feels so good looking and put together, I just wanted to watch them. I wanted to put my tongue in their mouths.
I closed my eyes and drifted a little. I was high on my aloneness.
After a few minutes someone spoke to me. “Think the Yankees got it this year?”
I opened my eyes. About ten feet from me, on the other side of the wide sidewalk, was an old man in a wheelchair. He was smiling at me.
He had been invisible to me. But now we were both visible.
“I don’t know. I was a Mets fan when I was a kid but haven’t followed baseball since then.”
A woman passed and the man asked her for change and she walked by and he said god bless you.
I asked him how his day was going. If he was making money.
It’s good he said. The weather is good.
I asked him, what do you do when it’s winter. Where do you go?
I sometimes sleep at friends houses. Or sometimes I go to the train station. There’s always a place.
I said, where are you from originally and he said Alabama. But I’ve been here for 40 years.
He said, but yesterday I got some bad news. Some real bad news. My uncle had a massive massive heart attack.
Oh no, I’m sorry. Is he ok?
No, he died.
Were you close to him?
He laughed a little. He said, yeah, we were real close. I remember he always used to give me cash.
I said, And now look. He taught you well. You’re still asking people for cash.
He laughed. That’s right. Sixty years later. He did teach me well.
I wondered why he was in the wheelchair but didn’t ask. I closed my eyes again.
I don’t know how long my eyes were closed but my friend was done doing whatever she was doing and she rushed past me and said, Ok, now I have to go over to…
I got up. I’ll go with you, I said.
See you later, I said.
See you, he said.
Good luck with the rest of the day.
I walked over to where his cup was and then caught up with my friend when I was done.
We started walking several blocks. We were going to eat cake. That was our original plan when we left the apartment we were renting this week.
There is only one place in the city we go to to eat cake. There’s like four tables in the place and they make these cakes that are special.
Who was that guy, she said.
Nobody, I said.
What were you talking about.
We were walking block after block because I forgot where the cake place was. Soon we had walked a mile or two.
The best way to explore is to be lost. I like to always be a tiny bit lost. It’s wonderful when a new face is a new mystery.
I didn’t feel like “improving 1%” that day. It was a no-self-help day. It was a No-Day.
We had our cake and ate it too. Which, by the way, is exactly what you are supposed to do with cake.
Too many times we try to do whatever everyone else thinks is good for us. We don’t do what we simply want to do. We don’t love what we simply want to love.
I work hard to get things. But then I forget to experience. Things go away but experience leaves a little bit of a shadow tattoo on the brain.
When I GET, then that’s usually followed by I want to CONTROL. I forget that everyone should just do what they want to do.
I know I get along with people better (my kids) when I don’t try to control them. I just try to love them.
We live in this small crack of light between two dark infinities. I want mine to fill with new experiences. Because new things go away. But experiences I can anticipate, I can enjoy, and I can remember.
We ate our cake and were happy and started to walk home.
We passed where I was lying down before but the man was gone. Maybe he had collected enough money. The sun had an hour left to live and his uncle was dead.
But the uncle taught him well. You and I should be so lucky to learn something from each other while we are still here.
That was two days ago. God bless you.Share This Post