Irrelevant but absolutely true story: Once upon a time, in a galaxy not all that far away (okay, it was in this galaxy), I had a falling out with a boyfriend on a city street. He got mad and stormed away or I got sad and stopped walking, but either way, I found myself standing there alone on a busy sidewalk, late at night, and on the verge of tears.
As I waited there hoping he’d come back, (but realizing I didn’t see him anywhere), I imagine I tried to figure out what I’d do if I really was stranded on my own. As the tears began to fall, a homeless man came up to me. He was an older black guy in typically ragged clothing; skinny and shaky and shifty-eyed.
“How are you tonight, darling?” he asked me, probably hoping to bum a few bucks.
I thought of a few different answers to the question, and then decided to go with the truth. In a choked-up voice I told him, “I’m not doing that well, actually.”
He opened his mouth to say something, and then stopped. Considering me for a second, his eyes softened, and he said, “Do you want to talk about it?”
And the craziest thing is that he said it with real sincerity and as though he were truly concerned for my well-being. His voice had a gentle kindness, the way a concerned friend’s might. Feeling like a world-class basket case lately and unsure of which direction to go as a mounting feeling of “this is your LIFE, dammit. Your LIFE” grips me nearly daily, I’ve thought about that homeless guy more than once in recent weeks.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I kind of do.