I wondered what happened to him. The neighbor that shared my balcony in the city. Neighbors had come and gone but he became a trusted person in the building, someone that didn’t scare or worry me in spite of his tumultuous background. But then, he was gone. Evicted. His belongings shoved under a tarp beneath our once shared balcony until they were given away and sold. Had he relapsed?
Months later I would read a story about a homeless man found dead under a bridge and I’d worry it was him. It wasn’t, but only increased my concern of wondering where had he gone?
Sunday evening I needed to not be doing what I was supposed to be doing. I skipped a meeting and rode behind my husband on his motorcycle to Longs Park to hear a an amazing blues artist close out the Summer concert series. The humidity of Summer was gone, kids heading back to school, and the weekend and Summer at their sunset. We sat on the grass and soon other bikers found their way to the open grassy areas around us. I was “people watching” as I love to do; wondering what brings folks together and what is in their past. A man in front of me with a beautiful younger woman. He the tough guy, she the tanned beauty. A man tapped on the tough guy’s shoulder and after a moment he showed recognition at the man who had gotten his attention. They hugged as good ole pals do and then parted ways. The other man returned to the seat next to me.
I looked to my right and stared. It was him. That long lost neighbor. “Scott?” I said and he smiled at me. I don’t think he remembered my name but I hugged him close and told him “It’s so good to see you.” I turned to my husband and he smiled wide, recognizing my relief at seeing my long lost neighbor and went to say hello. When my husband sat back down I expressed my concern. “I hope he’s clean,” I told him. My husband said “He’s alive.” and I nodded as tears formed in my eyes.
As the night closed out we saw him once more. By then I had on my motorcycle jacket, ready for the cool ride home. “You riding?” he asked. I nodded. “I just took a ride up to Middle Creek yesterday and it was wonderful,” he shared with us. “That’s my favorite place!” I exclaimed, happy that he had discovered a treasured place so dear to my heart.
Last week I had a meeting with our township manager regarding the proposed pipeline coming through our community. I’m not sure exactly where he stands on the issue, but we have a deep mutual respect for one another. He emailed me this week to update me on the meeting venue change for the September board of supervisors meeting and shared that he would be on vacation later this week. I told him to have a good vacation and expressed that I’m sure he’s in need of one with the busyness of this project and feedback from residents. After several emails back and forth, commiserating about our chaotic schedules, he emailed me this one sentence:
“We must remember our life is good.”
The tears have been coming easy this week. Reminders of the precious uncertainty of life and that in midst of all the chaos it’s good to stop and take account of the honor of being alive and having a good life. Both of these things I have and yet, so easily, I get lost in this overwhelming feeling of busyness. When it comes down to it, my life is good. I am alive in spite of all the turmoil going on in my head and in this world. I forget how sacred life is, how precious it becomes. I know this, yet in time, I forget it all the same.