Long white beard with a bald head and silver eyes. They got as hard as petrified stone when a homeless man walked by asking for donations. I looked down at my phone. I was writing poetry on it so I felt justified in ignoring him. As if my words were more important than his problems or something? I don’t know. When he got off the train at the West Oakland station I noticed he had glazed over, unfocused eyes as if he was looking at something way off in the distance. He was high. Any lingering guilt form ignoring him dissipated.
Most of the faces on the train were fair skinned. Some looked out the windows, others looked forward with blank, stone faces, most looked down at their hand held computers. It isn’t a place to make friends—although I did once—her name was Molly.
She saw my dolly full of sound equipment and immediately knew we were the same. She had a bike with a trailer attached to the back, filled with paints. With warm curious eyes she asked “What do you do?” I told her about my busking and she told me about painting murals and driving a petty cab (One of those bikes with a love seat on the back you see buzzing up and down Embarcadero by the Warf.). We chatted for about 15 minutes until she got off at the Embarcadero station. I was left feeling warm and energized. A genuine connection with a stranger, a rarity in a time where we are introduced to our potential mates through curated phone profiles.
I ran into Molly months later while I was playing on the streets. I was in the middle of “You Remind Me” by Usher when she cruised by on her peddy cab chauffeuring two women. They made her stop so that they could hear the rest of the song, proceeded to stand, dancing and singing along. As they got closer I noticed who it was. When I finished the song the ladies shouted my name out and Molly looked excited and a little embarrassed, probably because she told the women my name not expecting them to shout it out. I said hi to Molly and played another song that the ladies recognized, so they hung around for that one too.
The whole exchange was organic. We didn’t have to set it up or force it. I was filled with delight. We didn’t have to coerce it into happening. There was no winner or loser. We were all on the same level enjoying life together.