Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Portraits Of The City (2)

He was fairly odd. Young...in his early twenties. His over sized sweatshirt constrained by a tank top carelessly thrown over. His sweats were just a little too short. Riding up on his legs on each side to reveal black, dry, scaly legs. The colors were unmatching. Gray sweats, a pink sweatshirt, red shirt, no socks, and old beat up white tennis shoes.

His gait was unorthodox. He seem to bounce from step to step. His head bobbing perceptibly up and down and his arms swinging wildly. He shoulders moved side to side with each step.

He had a look of concentration on his face as he entered the playground. It was a rare patch of green amidst the pulsating cityscape. Water tower loomed gently over our heads. The chirping of the birds intermixed with the episodic screeches of a dozen kids. Climbing on jungle gyms, sliding down slides, chasing after each other.

Although the kids barely noticed the new visitor the adults on the playground became rigid. Cautiously they herded their children away towards perceived safety. Cameron and Leila instinctively moved closer as I loitered toward the edge behind the swings.

He walked within ten feet of me and planted himself on the jungle gym. He cast his arms out wildly and began to move in a somewhat familiar manner. He was stretching. Using the wayward structure to twist his body in unorthodox ways. Nothing like the stretching I had done in my workout days.

He continued for a few minutes to carry out a number of bizarre exercises that bore little resemblance to the push ups, sit ups, and dips of my youth. And then he sat for a moment. He looked up towards me with an innocent grin and our eyes met as my head nodded gently.

Then he sprang towards the exit and tottered out. The parents slowly migrated back with their kids in tow. Before long the playground erupted in the joyous rapture of childhood noise.

And I sat as if in a trance. Never quite feeling fear, I was more saddened. He was harmless. Misunderstood. Encumbered by oddity he likely struggled to fit in. So many are born different. Unable to find the human bond with others. Psychologically and physically separated. Like the clothes on his back which failed to match...he failed to blend with society. His pink seemed bizarre when placed next to society's red.

So he ventured out on this beautiful sunny day. Trying to do something adult...like exercise. But he did it is his own way. And he did it in his own place. He had come to the park to be with the children. Not to harm, as some of the parents had thought, but more likely to bond.

After all...in many ways

he probably was one of them.

No comments: