This piece comes to you from inside one of those new cafes where I can’t recognize or pronounce anything on the menu, and the staff are clad in Avant- garde vintage threads whose price is anything but vintage. Due to my long suffering disappointment in ordering food with silly-hipster names from these types of establishments, I ended up ordering something familiar--A grapefruit juice. After all I was only here for the Wi-Fi.
I placed my order and asked the waiter for the Wi-Fi code in a way that would make Marshawn Lynch proud (You know why I’m here). To my dismay, this establishment did not have Wi-Fi, and buyer’s remorse began to sink in. I quickly realized my dilemma and thought out my options: Do I leave and waste my $3.50 in search of a new Wi-Fi spot? Or do I stay, drink this little ass cup of juice, and attempt to produce something.
With Rick Ross reverberating out of my earbuds I decided to stay put.
After eating I was walking back to my crib, playing a game that I often play while in public. If you’re a black man you should try it sometime. I call it the Eye-Contact Game or ECG for short. It’s best played while by yourself on subways, walking, or even in the workplace, I like to count how many people intentionally attempt to avoid eye-contact with me. It’s so comical. You know, that “I see you, but can’t see you” thingy. In order to score a point you have to see with a level of certainty either a quick neck jerk, or look away—no maybes. I think I was somewhere around 15 points when my eyes got stuck on something lovingly familiar.
Through a crystal clear glass window, inside of the neighborhood’s newest grocery store, sat my dear friend. The same friend whom I haven’t seen in a few months. The same friend whose birthday was today. There she sat, crying; on her birthday. Although my pace slowed, I continued walking and did what most people do when they see things they don’t want to. I tried to convince myself that the person I saw crying was not her. However, after a few more steps I was no longer convinced and decided to turn around and get a closer look.
In creep-like fashion I entered the grocery store and unlike when I was walking felt a lot of eyes on me, but no longer was I playing the ECG. As I tiptoed closer toward this beautiful silhouette, I was still a bit unsure if it was actually her. The biggest reason for doubt was that there was a brown-haired, curly-topped, middle aged, white man on her shoulder consoling her. Although I’m now only a trip-and-fall away from the two, my eyes are squinting. Not because I can’t see, but because I can’t make sense of what I’m seeing. I began to turn around and go home, and then my confirmation came. An unmistakable tattoo on her right wrist served as the giveaway. It was her, and I was concerned.
Now sitting beside the two she explained that she saw me from the window, but didn’t explain why she didn’t motion or wave to me. However, she did express gratitude that I had comeback to check on her. During the course of our two-and-a-half hour conversation she explained to me that she was feeling the weight of the world. As a local recognizable figure, she questioned the value of recognition when those who recognize your efforts are not connected to your purpose. Not wanting to sugarcoat things, yet wanting to speak from the heart, I told her that I was amazed that on her birthday she would be reflecting on the lives of others. I told her that her sensitivity was a gift. A gift that continues to motivate and inspire others; namely me, and that she couldn’t possibly stop. Now preaching to myself through our talk, I reassured her that her tears were a good thing. Her understanding of purpose vs. pageantry is a gift, and the ones who have those two confused are the ones I worry about.
Our talk was coming to a close and she needed to get to her birthday dinner with family. We laughed, hugged and eventually saw each other off. About two days had passed and I received a text message from that same friend which read “I thanked GOD for you today”. Which was especially touching because I had not been talking to GOD lately and had been feeling heavy.
Her text made me reflect on an idea I’d been given a few years back when trying to tell the difference between an angel and a friend. The saying goes: “The best way you can tell the difference between a friend and an angel is with a friend you can ask for a ride, and they will give you a ride. With a friend you can ask for $20 and they will give you $20. However, with an angel you won’t even have to ask”.
Today I’m thanking GOD for her Angelic presence. I love you… And ohh yeah, Happy Birthday.