February 18, 2008

I Wish I Were You

It was nighttime on my way home from something. Cold, but not bitter — an urban winter night. On the main avenue of my neighborhood I saw the woman. This was reflexive; she was pretty. That’s my whole life in a nutshell; it’s spent looking.

She was talking to a homeless man. He had set up in front of a bank, making a nest out of cardboard; he held a change cup. The woman had just given him money and he had just said thank you. Usually, people move on at that point, but she stayed longer and asked him how he was doing. He thanked her for her interest. He said something corny about how her beauty kept him going. She laughed and as she began to walk away, she said, “Be strong.”

He called after her.

“I will,” he said.