I've been a bad blogger. I know. It has been nearly six months since the last post. For those who continue to follow my work, thank you for hanging in there with me. Sparing the details, I needed some time off. It was a culmination of reasons; the proverbial avalanche of life's pressing, but all too pertinent questions: who am I? Does anyone care? Who is reading my work? Am I really a writer? Matters such as this held my brain hostage until I couldn't write that much. What's important is that I returned to this platform. So here it goes.
There is a man who lives on my street. I see him everyday. He must be in his mid 80's, wears all black clothing with white trainers. His skin and hair are silver. I will call him, Mr. Fred. Mr. Fred sits on one of the endless stoops aside the many tenement buildings on my street in the East Village.
Not one day has passed in the three years since living in this hood where I haven't seen him. Mr. Fred sleeps quite a bit. I'll catch him dozing, only to find him waking up for a mere moment, then resting peacefully again.
I wonder who is he? Where did he come from? Does he have any family? He is all alone in the world? What was his story?
Sadness is in the eyes of many who live anywhere, but especially here in New York. Its easy to get lost in the shuffle and to dissolve into nothingness. Upon the millions that reside here, feeling lonely or unseen is more common that you can imagine. Mr. Fred never talks to anyone. He just sits on the stoop, alone, staring into space, breathing heavy, completely vacant in his eyes, without anything to do or say. This makes me sad. I don't like to see anyone suffer needlessly or to trudge through life, in what appears to be the last stages, a hollow existence that doesn't seem to account for much.
Perhaps this sounds harsh. I'll try to rephrase. Perhaps Mr.Fred is truly happy. Perhaps he has someone there for him at home? A dog? Goldfish? A live in nurse or assistant?
Some of the moments I do see him, I often wonder if that will be me and will anyone care. With all due respect to Mr.Fred, I don't want to grow into someone who is a shell and who appears to be lifeless, as if they are waiting to leave the world. He must have had a life years ago, flourishing with companionship and professional stature, and financial security.
I honestly see him as one of the characters on Mad Men. I see him as a man who used to be a player, who had everything he wanted, who was big during his day. I don't know why this is, but this is who I imagine him to be. He probably had a family, a wife, a couple of children, many friends, a mistress, and golf buddies. I am getting over zealous, but you get the idea.
He reminds me of my grandfather who used to sit in his recliner for hours, watching television, but not really paying attention. He would just stare at the screen and zone out. When I visited him as a little boy, I wondered what he was thinking and if he was cognizant of his surroundings.
While most are caught up in their own world, why can't we take the time to reach out and just say hi. Maybe even smile or wave your hand to someone. A simple acknowledgement can make a huge impact on your day. This is one of the very reasons I don't like living in NYC. Too many of us are in our head, not bothering to care about others. I understand that this is a big city and that in order to survive, we must self-protect. I can see that part of myself intact. I am guilty of this where I don't want to be bothered. I don't smile. I don't say anything. I carry out my day. This is not good enough.
I don't think others like Mr. Fred should be alone like this all the time. Older people need others too. We often forget that if we are fortunate enough to live that long, who will be by our sides?