Sunday, February 3, 2008
I'd woken feeling stuffy headed, slightly allergy-ish, puffy-eyed, and a tad grumpy. Lots to do, little time in which to do it, school issues keeping me in a state of angst, I considered not going to David's game.
But it was Saturday, the game fairly close to home-- Salem State College-- an hour or so north through Boston to the town of Salem, famous for the 1692 witch trials that saw 19 suspected witches, many of them social outcasts, hang on Gallows Hill.
A change of pace was what I needed whether I wanted it or not, so I went.
I squeezed in a walk around the block that enclosed Salem State's O'Keefe Center while waiting for the game to begin. Just to kill time. I get so few chances to do that.
Others walking, too, passed with no eye contact, no greetings, just sharing the same planet. Two were coming toward me.
Still unfocused in the distance . . . one was tall, the other short . . . two men . . . loose clothing . . . like army clothes, camouflage . . . beard and long hair on the tall one . . . the short one, she's a woman . . . pack on the man's back . . .
When they were close enough for me to see the sores around the woman's mouth, she looked me in the eye and said, "Hello, Mam."
"Hi, How are you?" I said brightly, my autopilot response.
"Surviving. You?" she said as she passed.
The pack was a sleeping bag . . . the baggy clothes were layered over others . . . they were homeless . . . social outcasts . . . killing time . . . until the shelter opened.
In that heartbeat of realization, I struggled to answer her simple question. How was I? Great! Fine. Wonderful, thanks.
What came out of my mouth was, "Better . . . probably."
"Better . . .?" That word came unbidden. My subconscious attempt to convey that no matter how I was, I was in a better place than "surviving."
"Probably?" I don't know. That was lame-- a last minute gearshift in an attempt prevent understanding: not better than you, but better than how you are.
Maybe she didn't hear me anyway. Maybe the wind took my words.
We were people killing time for different reasons, sharing the planet.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity” ~Henry David Thoreau