Come meet the
There used to be this man, this tramp who came around my neighborhood when I was a kid.
He used to just sit on the green bench we had placed next to the small garden silent and seemingly waiting. We, the children at that moment used to lose every interest in our previous games and just sat near him, staring into that mysterious man and his hazel eyes. Some of our parents seemed to know him but stood aside, just eying this intruder into their peaceful ordinary lives.
Unlike them we felt this stranger had answers so we asked him millions of questions, from the most ridiculous to the ordinary ones like what his name is and where he lives.
He never gave a straight reply; instead he started singing, then interrupting his own self he cheerfully proclaimed some quote be it from a writer, philosopher or musician. And somehow to us that seemed so reasonable and genuine that we didn’t bring our questions up again.
Soon before the day was over this figure with no name stood up and walked away following some path, a one the tramp can only know.
We resumed our games soon forgetting about him and during the night his image, the fact that he’d been there during the day slowly faded away from our minds as if he never had existed. A man without a story, without directions or a home, we thought can someone like this be even real?
But the morning came and so did he very real indeed, a tall slim man with various clothing, layer upon layer of colors, a dirty long hair tied in a tail and a dark brown beard.
Now the memory of him gets a bit more vivid – I remember him to be well spoken, even bright in his own peculiar way.
I may have tried to study his young face but don’t recall learning anything from it. Calm as always, not bothered by his looks, cheerfully answering our questions without actually giving a desired answer. Just like the days before.
Often we the children that were drawn by this persona wondered about the real man behind the mask of mystery. In our eyes he was never just a tramp, only a vagrant of the streets. No. We were able to picture him as an adventurer from some distant lands, or a time traveler lost in an unknown world far from his home. He could have been from the future, searching for someone to trust his knowledge to. If we followed him on his departure, every time just around the corner he would disappear without a trace, melt into some shadows, or be gone with the wind. I was convinced there is more about this man than what meets the eye.
The insecurity, uncertainty about him never frightened me or the others. Unlike every other grown up we knew this one seemed to hide something, maybe the biggest secret of them all? So we thought.
Now at some point this story about him was brought to us by some unfamiliar face. He didn’t know his name but only a part from the story of his life.
See the mystery man once was a boy with ambitions, which grew up to be a man highly educated, passionate about music, arts and literature, and with promises for a great future. He met a girl, falling deeply in love with her, offering not only his heart but his soul as well. Needles to say when he put everything aside for this chimera of beauty he did himself wrong. After some years she left him letting insanity take her place. Days and nights, weeks and months he couldn’t overcome his love and instead of that welcomed confusion, paranoia and total loss of identity in his life.
Then he lost everything else – house, job, money thus becoming our mysterious man.
The story seems fitting somehow doesn’t it – tragic with a plot to inspire songs or movies.
I remember not finding this “love” story satisfying enough and being courageous to go and ask my father if it was true. I was the first one to find out the truth. Not my truth, but the one that life had chosen for this man.
He was once smart yes, but never that bright. He was a kid with mental issues which resulted in him being a homeless person. His mother had died several years ago living him all alone to follow only the decisions of his troubled mind. Still he remained without a name, but the story was confirmed by other well-respected adults.
Not a special person then. Not a mystery at all.
The next few days he didn’t come. In fact he hasn’t come around here for years now. I usually look out for him in the summer. That was the season in which he decided to linger here before leaving forever to a destination unknown. He never answered our questions, never told us his name. Or his true story. I don’t believe he actually though it mattered much.
And I don’t believe this story of painful love or this ugly truth about a man, whose mind forced him into living on the benches or frozen construction sides, collecting food from trash bins.
I decide to give my trust to my memories telling the story of a man who came to meet us, got to know us not revealing himself to anyone, and left before the summer was over taking away our answers. I believe he knew them all. He’ll always be a time traveler, an explorer, a vagrant from some other planet but never just a man with his mind astray from sense. Who knows, one day he may come back still this young and tell us the biggest secret, tell us of the future or what other worlds look like. I hope I will be still here to meet him.