I met you on a Thursday. My eyes fell on you the minute the wind thrust me through that glass door, probably because you were the only one standing, or maybe because you were the tallest in the room. No, I think it was the shorts you were wearing on a wintry, mid-November morning along with that sweatshirt, reading, “Kentucky Basketball Is Better.” I know practically nothing about sports so I couldn’t judge.
Unlike everybody else, who was eager to talk and get to know us, you only cast us a glance. I learned your name from the nurses, but I wasn’t sure how to start a conversation with you. You were diligently traveling in planned circles around the sofa chairs on the remote side of the room. But you would stop occasionally, take a look at us, brooding, with both hands resting on your hips. Before I had a chance to deliver a smile, you went on with your travels. At times, perhaps, you needed a break from your expedition, when you would sit down in the armchair by the glass door.
I kept an eye on you all day, Brandon, hesitant to speak to you because nobody had tried yet. I came up with a thousand assumptions in my head: you don’t like talking to people, you can’t speak, you’re shy . . . and I left that day without a word with you.
On Friday, I walked in through the same glass door only to find that you were still on your tour around the sofa chairs. Though this time, you wore a different shirt, simply reading, “Kentucky.” You must love Kentucky very much––I had to arbitrarily assume everything about you before we could have a chat. I wondered if you had been to other states before. I couldn’t wait any longer to truly meet you, so I talked to Tisha first, your friend here for the past eighteen years. She said she doesn’t know what your condition is, but she settled my concerns. It turned out that you actually like crowds, and though you wouldn’t talk to anyone but yourself, you would do handshakes sometimes. And she told me, if anybody tells a good joke to you, you’d say, “Well.” I listened to her as I watched you take a break in your armchair, and I had never been happier to be a part of the crowd. I’d only known you for two days, Brandon, but it felt like forever; I felt lucky.
I got a handshake from you before I left that day, and that was the only communication between us. I had no idea that I wasn’t going back to see you, to see Tisha, to see Von, to see Johnny . . . otherwise, I’d like to hug each one of you and tell you a good joke, hoping you might say, “Well.”
I won’t be too sad, Brandon, because I know I’m going to see you again. Take care.
Photo Credits: Debby Hudson