Friday, April 2, 2010

In The Middle of The Highway

I was driving on the freeway today. It was busy, but traffic was smooth. Everyone was moving along at at least 70 mph, but there were still enough of us, so many of us actually, to make the two men standing on the side of the free way particularly noticeable.
There were two large islands of overgrown grass that were separated by an off ramp. The grass was blowing constantly, but slowly like in a tropical climate and it was tall enough to reach a knee. In fact, the grass did reach a knee, the knees of one homeless man, and another. The two men stood on separate islands of grass and one moved slowly, with difficulty against the wind, to leave his island and cross over to the other island. I watched this from half a mile away and up until we passed it. The one man who was moving, his cheeks were pulled back by the wind and he was straining his eyes.
He must be making his way to the other man, I thought. There is such a fight in him. He had on a leather biking jacket and a backpack and had white hair, the man standing on the other island had on a grey sweatshirt and had long dirty blonde hair. I just could help but think, what are the odds of two homeless men being here, separately, in the middle of this dangerous highway? At least, if they are separate, they must want to speak to each other. They must want to know one another’s story.
At the time our car passed the scene, the one man who had been walking reached the man on the other island of grass who was standing still. And he passed him. It was like watching two different movies play side by side. The one man looking pained, and struggling so much. And the other just loafing around. Looking into the ground, scratching his arm. The two never looked each other in the eye, or even in the direction of the other. I was shocked, but then I realized, maybe I shouldn’t be.
Maybe there is just an understanding between the two men, between many homeless people, for that matter. They probably pass each other and just silently say (in their heads, but they know the other one is saying it)
“I’ts been tough for you. And I can’t help you. Good Luck.”

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