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Making My Way Downtown

22/02/2013

The other day I found myself alone downtown, an often scary place in the wrong areas, waiting for a ride that was late. Though I was cold and it was raining, something propelled me to go for a walk instead of seeking shelter in the nearby Theater I had just come from. Now, when I walk, I often keep my head down as much as possible, mostly to keep myself from tripping over something unexpectedly, but also to keep from looking anyone in the eye. But that day I decided to look up instead. As I walked I noticed a cast of characters that interested me.

For start, I passed two elderly men dawned in casual suits and stylish hats, they almost looked as if they had just stepped out of the Jazz age. They were laughing and all together enjoying each others’ company as I walked slowly behind them, and when one man reached his destination the two parted ways saying “Peace and Love. Ciao.” Which would was probably one of the most interesting exchanging of words I had ever heard.

Second, I noticed a man sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette. For a second I thought he was homeless. He had a long unkempt hairstyle and beard combo, and a general demeanor that showed he could have been through a lot in a short amount of time and that he possibly didn’t trust anyone. But as I got a closer look, I noticed that his clothing looked clean, new and they could possibly have been name-brand rather than something you might find cheap at a thrift store. And as I passed him he tipped his head to me saying “Hello ma’am” (although it sounded vaguely like mom, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt.)

Lastly, when I stopped to wait after a while of walking I was approached by an elderly man caring a recycled grocery bag. He said hello pleasantly and asked how I was doing, pretty much the normal greeting given to someone you might pass on the street. But then he said something I did not expect: he asked me if I liked poetry. Of course I like poetry, I spend most of my time analyzing most forms of writing for school and I plan to write professionally one day.

“I ask” he said “Because I’m a poet.” Then he brought over his grocery bag to where I was sitting and pulled out a green spiral notebook “Would you like one of my poems?” He asked me. Of course, I love the idea of reading other people’s work, especially poetry, so I told him I would. He picked out a special poem he had written about brown eyes based on the colour of mine. “They say that your eyes are the gateway to your soul” He told me “And I believe that. If you look someone in the eye for long enough, you can know a lot about them.” A beautiful statement on its own, but then he added something that still sticks with me. He continued talking about how nobody looks anyone in the eye anymore; He said “Nobody knows who anyone is anymore, because they never look each other in the eye long enough.”

This was said in a very “back in my day” way that is common when referring to conversations with the elderly, but in a way it is true. People don’t pay attention to their surroundings anymore; everyone is so absorbed in their own agenda that they never even look up as they walk down the streets, me included. If we all spend our days looking at our feet as we walk, we miss out on moments that could make your day so much more interesting. If I hadn’t chosen to look around while I walked, I would not have seen the two men from the Roaring Twenties, or the Homeless Impostor  And I would not have met the coolest Poet I have ever seen.

His name was Dennis, and he walks around town handing out poems to anyone who would stop long enough to listen to him. And even though my ride didn’t show up until long after we had planned, and I managed to get a nasty cold, I’m glad I chose to explore my city that day.

 Reaga
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