Friday, July 3, 2015

Microstory 95: Crying Man

I was headed back towards my crappy new apartment after a lonely walk along the river when I noticed a man on the other side of the street. He was sitting up against a parking garage. I was too far away and listening to music, so I couldn’t hear him, but he was clearly crying. No, not just crying; he was bawling. He looked like a loved one had just died, or his life had somehow otherwise been ruined. I told myself that there was nothing I could do about it, that he was a stranger, and that he probably just wanted to be left alone. Even though I’m known for being distant and socially awkward, I felt the urge to go over to him. Without looking for traffic, I jaywalked across the street and slowly approached him, no clue what I was going to do once I got there. Without saying a word, I leaned my back against the wall and slid down next to him. At some point, he noticed that I was there, but he made no move. He didn’t ask me to leave, and he didn’t try to tell me what was wrong. Gradually, I began to feel his pain. Without knowing the details of the actual event, I started to feel an incredible sense of loss. This was not about being fired, or a broken down car, or a breakup. This was profound, primal, and real. As my eyes began to tear up, his bellowing turned to blubbering, and then to sobbing, then to weeping, until finally he was only sniffling. Thoughts flooded into my head. I was remembering all the pain that I had felt in my entire life, along with his. My first really bad grade in school, his best friend moving out of the state; crashing my father’s car, dropping his mother’s favorite wine glass; my divorce, his struggle to find a job; the death of my dog, and the sudden death of his infant son. For a few moments, we were one person. And then we were separated once more. He stood up and breathed deeply several times. “Thank you,” he said, “for being there. And for somehow helping.” He walked away, and I never saw him again.

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