a strange man came up to me today while i was waiting for the trolley. he said, "ni hao! ni hao!"
"i actually don't speak," i said.
"you were born here?"
"no, i was born in australia."
that is actually not true.
he stuck out his hand. "hi, my name's lucien." i think he said "lucien." "what's your name?"
i didn't really want to tell a stranger my name, but i did. "carl," i said.
"kyle? nice to meet you kyle. how's your day been?"
his eyes were red-yellow. he wore dirty clothes and in one hand he clutched maybe half-a-dozen new children's socks in their packages and an assortment of bags.
"what made it good?"
"still alive, i guess. it's good to be alive."
i was waiting for him to sell me socks.
"thanks to god, right? you believe in god?"
"i mean, you can't see him."
"so you only believe what you see? and you do good? and you live your life to the fullest each day?"
"yeah. you don't need to believe in heaven or hell to be a good person."
"as long as you live your life to the fullest and you do your best every day... well it was nice meeting you. take care, kyle."
"you too," i said, probably too quietly.
and i thought, this is it. that was him.
for a really long time, i've been waiting for someone to start a conversation randomly with me, just because, and there was that person and i never even asked him why he looked so tired and why he believed in god and how he was doing. and even after he left, i still couldn't believe he didn't try to sell me something or convert me. i'm sorry.
i spent all of last semester waving out the floor-to-ceiling living room windows at the people on the walk below. and around christmas, a little girl looked up and waved back. and her father looked up and he started waving too. the whole family did.
it was like a christmas gift. it was pretty awesome.
this really is what my life amounts to.
they were taking photos of the sat teachers for the newsletter and my coworker seriously whipped a bow tie out of his pocket and went to the bathroom to make sure he looked okay. i waited for him and then they took the picture. when i came home this evening, i realized i have random black smudges on my face from getting whiteboard marker all over my hand.