Friday, April 20

The smile


In my neighbourhood walks a man of indeterminable age. He patiently ferries his belongings, all contained within an infinite number of bags, along the quiet residential streets. Whilst his route appears random, I suspect that if someone was to map it, a pattern would emerge. What thoughts occupy his mind as he treads the streets? What treasures and memories are held in those countless bags? Some of the bags are partially open, the zips ripped; the seams torn, and although I’m dying to peek, I’m just too afraid.

He is a big and sturdy man, and I suspect his hair may once have been blonde, but now it looks yellow, and he reminds me of a Cornish fisherman. His face and clothes are beyond grubby and most people give him a wide birth, carefully avoiding the possibly unpleasant risk of accidentally inhaling his stale scent.

In all the years I've seen him walk the streets,
I have never seen him drunk or with a drink in his hand. I have never heard him raise his voice or seen him exhibit any signs of aggression or violence. Often, when it’s raining, I see him reading, sitting somewhere sheltered from the weather (he’s careful never to choose a residential doorway). What does he read?

A few days ago we found ourselves on the same street corner. Our eyes met and he gave me the widest, kindest smile. That smile made my day.

Yet my feelings towards him remain the same confused mess of fear and caring. I would desperately like to stop and ask him what he’s reading. I want to know his story, where he came from. But I know I will never dare.

This entry was inspired by a wonderful post written by Lacithecat called The Old Man.

11 comments:

edvard moonke said...

lovely stuff.

I suspect if I ever bumped into you in a street corner I may well flash you a big smile too. if that happens, don't be shy, say hello. :-)

Sharon said...

We may never know who did or thought what....so many pass thru our lives and nary a thought is given to them. Each of us has a purpose and is special or was special to someone. I enjoyed your post and am glad you are back.

daisies said...

i really loved this post : ) i remember once when i was in university, i used to catch the greyhound bus home on weekends when i could and one time at the bus terminal i ended up talking to one of the ones who was always there getting shelter from the cold. i bought him a burger and a coffee and we talked and it is a conversation that sits with me even now, years later ~ his beautiful, sad journey somehow filled with its own joy.

thank you for the reminder ~ it always amazes me how connected we all are somehow influencing even if its just a beautiful smile on the street ...

La Cubana Gringa said...

Everyone has a story...and everyone's story overlaps somehow. It may take a little digging, but I'm sure of it.

Tammy said...

I've added you to my blog alert so next time I don't miss so much. My house goes up for sale next week so we are very stressed. Great story! XXOO

acumamakiki said...

yes, we all have a beautiful story inside. i'm sure in all his years of walking around, he's noticed you too and that smile was one of acknowledgement. i read a blog of a woman who works with homeless people (i'm assuming he's homeless, perhaps not?) and her words have made me less fearful of street people and ever more curious of their stories.

Lacithecat said...

That was so sweet! And I know EXACTLY how you feel. Connecting but somehow not connecting. Curious to know why and how he wanders. Oh yes!

The post inspired me to finally fiquire out how to link the 'thinking blogger award' that you nominated me for.

And the cream tea sounds very enticing!! I just having to finish this contract (or not). Will keep you posted. Smile ...

Nicole said...

everybody has a story. there are so many people that i pass by and wonder what they have to say. i'm sure we could learn so much...

lovely post.

xoxo

Tori said...

Books have this wonderful and magical way of connecting people.
Our public library is the place that many homeless people spends their days. I often see the same man, voraciously reading, and I want to talk to him about, well, his life.

Vanessa said...

this is so endearing.
it's rare to see homeless people in dublin now but in barcelona, where we used to live, my husband connected with several homeless people on many levels. I, like you, always held back, inexplicably.
Vx

MAHIMA said...

sounds like a beautiful old man!

the universe is made up f stories, not atoms.

can't remeber who said it. have it written on my room wal. will give you the source next time i'm here.

great post.

and great blog.