I don’t get people who don’t get the homeless, the alcoholics or anyone that society treats as trash. I don’t know how they give them cold stares, put spikes on benches to make finding a place to sleep even harder, mobilize law officers to chase them and the worst of all, I don’t get how most people just don’t seem to see them, they walk past them as if they were part of the old stone walls of the city center. The first person with whom I shared a drink in France was a homeless man named Geoffrey, he had a majestic black dog as a companion, he poured half of his beer into my empty glass and he started talking to me. He was, of course, drunk, shirtless with an unzipped coat on, his beard wasn’t shaved and his eyes had shrunken inside his orbits.
I didn’t understand everything he told me that night. My ears weren’t tuned to hearing french and honestly I don’t think the alcohol his body was full of,helped him enunciate. But, I understood some of what he said. His name was Geoffrey “come si j’offrais un cadeau”, he kept repeating. He talked a lot about respect. Life was all about respect and he seemed to think this virtue has fled our hearts. He punctuated every statement by putting his hand forward waiting for a fist bump or by holding his glass in the air all that while staring deeply into your eyes. I saw him once a month after that, I would cross him in the street, usually with the other unfortunates of this city. I would offer him a cigarette and a smile. I knew he remembered me.
I was outside a bar one night, smoking with a friend when I saw a drunk man in the middle of the street. He was another homeless man, my friend gives him a cigarette to get him to stay on the sidewalk and we start talking, I asked him how was Geoffrey, he told me he was doing time behind bars. I don’t know if that man deserves to be in jail or not, I don’t even know what he had done. All I know he was kind with me once, I know he felt alone in this world and he was glad to have someone notice him that night, he was just glad someone listened to him instead of ignoring him and I know he was all about respect. You’ve earned my respect that night buddy, I’ll remember you.
I remember this man because I understood him. I understand people who can’t stand the world so they drown themselves in alcohol, shoot drugs and abandon the stiff codes of conduct. I understand their misery, I share their pain, I share their hatred for society, a society that should’ve been their community instead chased them like sewer rats, abandoned them when they needed support the most and made them scapegoats responsible for every evil in the world.
My girl would understand though. She will know that these people once had their lives together but something happened that shattered their spirits. These people once had dreams and hopes, now all they care about is getting your change to buy the next can of beer, the next ounce of whatever drug they’re using. She would know better than to just walk away from them as if they were lepers, she would know that listening to them with a genuine smile makes their eyes water up with gratitude. I am looking for a girl with a compassionate heart, a girl who would give up her seat for a poor old man or to a little child, a girl that has endured a few traumas, spent some time in hell, stayed up countless nights looking at the stars, wandered if it’s worth it a few times, drank a few glasses too many because she could still feel the pain, was at the brisk of giving up a few times but came back. She is an eternal optimist like me.
She would understand my thoughts with a stare and I would understand hers. She is the one I will always trust and I would be the one she trusts. We would both know that noting matters, that we’re on borrowed time. Love is but a fable. One day, our pain will drive us apart. But, I promise I’ll be with you every time you feel down, every time your sadness is too much for you to bear alone, every time you break down in tears because this world hurt you. I promise to do what I can to make the few years we might share wonderful until the day where us together starts to bring us pain as well.
Till then, I’m here, waiting for you, looking for you.