Not many people like the truth. That is the fact. I also write in cliches. I do not like that.
I told that to the homeless person sitting next to me to whom I had given 2 dollars, even though she had just asked for change.
“God bless you baby” she had said and sat down right next to me.
She stank. Yes, she stank to the gutters and back. I could smell poverty. Who said poverty is a state of mind? It permeates every pore and spills into your eyes. If you think poverty is a state of mind, I would like to see your mind and the state of richness it is embossed in.
I could see her ass crack caked in grime, like the parched cracked surface of deserts, only blacker and sweatier. I think I might’ve gagged into the peanut butter-banana-skim milk-no ice smoothie that I was drinking.
For the past three months, I have been struggling with my routine. A routine that I had carefully sculpted that takes me to establishments of varying reputability, hold transactional conversations with humans, and brings me back to my den. Groceries, gym, bookstores, food establishments, bathroom, bedroom, and couch.
Lately, whenever I want to jump into the routine there is a disruption. I am told this is normal. I am told this is life.
But somehow, I feel disruptions are disruptions and life is life. I do not see how disruptions can ever be life.
Is it just me who finds these mundane tremors irksome?
I fail to understand how a person who washes dishes and vacuum cleans the house mouths off words that urge another person to go live their life or pursue their dreams. How can someone who has not risked anything ever understand what it takes to be laughed at? I was playing a game that was hollow.
Isn’t it natural to feel claustrophobic when watching life zoom by in slow motion? I also have terrible secrets that will make people laugh. I think those with whom I have shared them thought I was joking. They couldn’t believe the immensity of ignorance that could have given rise to such a state. But there you are.
I stand on the ledge of the zooming superhighway of life, wondering when I can let go of the rails and jump into the traffic.
I really don’t want to resort to jump-shot literary devices. But there is something of the cinematic cuts that I want to bring to the story. A shaky, snazzy snap of the camera aperture with a satisfying crunchy click, that brings the story back to where I was sitting with the homeless person in front of a bodega.
I was eyeing all the walkers. Looking them in the eye.
I was sure I looked pretty non-threatening, if unapproachable. Not a single person looked me in the eye. That included at least a 100 passersby.
Everyone was busy. Everyone hurried. They were fiddling with their phones. They were busy looking ahead. They were talking to their friends, their lovers, their sexual partners, their parents, their kids, their colleagues.
I tried looking into all of their eyes. The few that saw me look at them embarrassingly averted their gaze as if caught in a personal act of shame.
When I started feeling cold and lonely I looked at the bum sitting next to me for comfort. She smiled. She had opened her ragged purse and was counting cigarette stubs. I shook my head. How many times had she turned to me and I was looking elsewhere? But there she was patiently sifting through her smelly plastic covers.
I returned my gaze to the thoroughfare. The people were walking still.
Were these the same people who when asked at the right time, by the right person, would open up spilling their insecurities and dreams? What is so precious about the thoughts that they needed to be guarded by averted eyes? Can’t a stranger be as good a listener as a familiar face? Do they think familiarity breeds trust?
I saw their bodies retreat into the streets. No matter how they looked from behind, their eyes said the same thing.
“Dont look at me”.
Fat bottomed girls, thigh gap girls, designer pant men, mom jeans men, stooped shoulders, creamy white shoulders, melanin-rich legs, chin length hair, Skrillex cut hair.
They all said the same thing.
I heard the straw of my smoothie scraping the bottom of the plastic cup. The rasping sound of the straw sucking air and buttery nutty liquid was grating. A blind end of the straw, sucking banana peanut butter into my lips. The spray shooting into my throat, coating the insides of my cheek, the tongue coiled back, retreated and tensed, lapping up the taste, now and then waving the pooled saliva and sweet syrup to my throat and down it, my neck convulsing and bobbing, before regaining its predatory position at the end of the straw hole inside my mouth.
I looked again at the homeless bum next to me. She smiled her gap-toothed smile.
“You stink” I said smiling.
On the walk back I tried looking into people eyes. But all I saw were profiles of dispassion.
I felt lonely and cold.
I hadn’t even said goodbye to the homeless bum. I had walked away too intent on getting my routine right.