My friend KT says that a lot.
And, after tonight, I’m giving that more consideration.
Here’s what happened:
I was in Central Square, I was pooped after a vigorous yoga class and lots of walking, I was early to meet a friend for dinner. So I gratefully sat down on a park bench near the restaurant where we’d agreed to meet on a glorious spring afternoon. An obviously drunk guy—heh, it’s St. Patrick’s Day; greater-Boston is full of drunks today—sat on a bench facing me, then abruptly jumped up and drunkenly lurched across the street, narrowly missing being hit by an approaching bus on Massachusetts Avenue. I continued sitting there and, lo, he returned, and again sat across from me.
My city survival meter now on HIGH ALERT, I decided to go into the restaurant early rather than to deal with him. As I got up, he said to me (by now the sun had gone down behind the Square’s buildings), as clearly and as lucidly and as kindly as he could be, “Don’t get pneumonia, now.” Then he pulled out a cheap, plastic flute and began to play. Badly.
My, God, I realized, approaching the restaurant. He’s the same guy I had that whole, challenging interaction with at Park Street Station a couple of weeks ago! [see my February 27th blog: “Let Go, Let Surveillance.”]
At the restaurant, I immediately got caught up with spending time with my friend, eating, etc., so hadn’t really had time to process that coincidence. But after she and I had parted, I was walking down Mass. Ave. and wondering what there had been about that man—and me—that made him not obviously the same guy and me not able to recognize him.
Well, I thought, he was drunk. So I didn’t want to make eye contact; look at him too carefully. He’s black. He’s a street person. Does this mean I simply don’t see black, homeless people?
OK, now it gets weird: JUST as I’m mulling this over, I spot another black homeless person sitting on the sidewalk. She’s hunched over and holding out a cup for spare change. She’s wearing huge sunglasses and a big-brimmed hat and even though I can’t see her face I know who she is! It’s “Crystal” (that’s the name I gave her in Way Opens. Pages 178, 179 for all you folks dying to read about her.)
I go right up to her: “Crystal?” I say.
It’s Patricia,” I tell her opening my change purse.
“Right.” I notice a huge bag of books beside her. “I see you’re still reading,” I observe as I drop all my change except the pennies into her cup.
Then she starts spewing forth a huge, writhing mess of words, most of them having to do with sexual organs, male and female, and a white cop who. . .but why bother to report what she said. Crystal’s not doing well. And not making a whole lot o’ sense.
But neither does my absolute confidence that I knew who she was.