So I’m walking over to Jefferson Park for my daily visit to those huge eucalyptus trees, a walk through the mulch that makes my feet feel better, breathing in the eucalyptus and listening to the birds. I’m wearing my sun hat, of course, I’m so glad I brought a sun hat, what would I have done without it? Headache drama, for sure.
And there’s someone yelling hey from across the street and to the left, oh it’s that guy I used to see all the time in the Tenderloin, cracked out and yelling hey, hey! He liked my outfits, and called me Tweety, which was kind of annoying after a while, but there’s something so intimate about the way he greets me today, when we haven’t seen one another in a few years I don’t think, unless I ran into him a year ago when I was visiting on my last tour.
He’s complimenting me on my outfit again, what is he saying exactly, just an exclamation, an excited expression and then when I get to the park I’m almost crying because of that familiarity. It’s tempting to think that as a white person with a certain amount privilege walking through the streets, that the interactions I have with people like this guy, a black guy struggling with drug addiction and who knows what else for at least 10 years, that these quick interactions that have always meant something to me, it’s tempting to dismiss that meaning as maybe something only in my head. A meaning that says we are both part of his neighborhood, together it’s us, maybe, sometimes.
And then I’m startled to see how this guy recognizes me so quickly, yells out to say hello again and how this does make me feel a part of something, a neighborhood or a time of my life, makes me feel like crying, I am crying, a little. Maybe this will be a day of crying. And I’m thinking about how I haven’t run into any random person who I know on the street, and how I haven’t wanted to, but whatever this brief interaction means, it feels reassuring.