It was Halloween night. I had saved up $20 over the course of the last week. Times were difficult, but I promised to take myself out for a couple Jagger bombs at my favorite metal club. I was over worked and stressed. My soul was desperate to breathe. I needed the music. I needed a drink.
It had been a long time. Maybe more than half a year since I had enjoyed a night out. I recalled always seeing someone outside the front gate begging. I had this old inhaler box that I would toss my small change into, for no particular reason other than maybe giving it to beggars. So I filled a mini zip lock with as much change as I could fit. It wasn’t much, probably around $3 worth, dressed up like a go-go dancer with burlesque styled make-up and a short green wig then went out.
Downtown took about 40 min to get to via the city transit system. Walking from the metro station toward the club I passed a few beggars but was saving the change for whoever was outside the club tonight. Nearly there I saw a young man carrying a backpack and a sleeping bag. He was walking my direction asking everyone he passed if they could spare him one penny. He stood out to me in a way I’ve never forgotten. He was younger than me I was sure. He didn’t look homeless, nor did he look like a vegabond. More like someone who might be couch surfing or staying at hostels, or just kicked to the streets by his girlfriend. He had a story that’s for sure. We all do.
Everyone walks by him as if he’s just another annoying bum. How are people not seeing this soul? And this is the moment I replay in my head. You see, whenever I promised myself something, I’d do it. I didn’t make other spontaneous decisions instead of it in fear of negative experiences that would later lead to depression. It’s how I survived both the world and myself. But every time I look back on this moment I kick myself for not inviting him for a drink with me or even to one of those late night cheap pizza places. I had never asked a guy out, it goes against my principals. My instincts are so messed up that if they tell me to stick to my evening plans then there’s a good chance this was actually good guy who’s worth helping out. But then if that’s how I feel about him, there’s a good chance he could be a rapist serial killer.
So I take out the little bag of change as my inner voice assures me this is who the change is for.
“It’s not much,” I said, rather ashamed of not being able to offer more, “But it’s more than a penny.”
He looked at me and at the baggie with the most amazed look on his face. His jaw dropped open as he took an exasperated breath. I love unexpected reactions. By passers turned to see our interaction. The interaction they didn’t want to make.
“Thank you!” He said with most appreciation as he received the baggie. Now I just felt bad for not putting effort into finding larger coins to fill it with. This either meant a lot to him or perhaps he was a little high on something. He looked strikingly similar to a guy I had a crush on in high school. I didn’t have the nerve to say much of anything. Was I still shy of cute guys? I was quiet and a little anti-social by nature which doesn’t suit well with the flashy way I loved to dress up.
“Sorry it’s not more,” I said.
After making eye contact, rendered speechless by a heart flutter, I walked away. I just walked away. This young man I met for not even a minute etched into my brain for the rest of my life. I often wonder what would have happened had I been bold enough to get to know him, but that was not my path. I enjoyed the rest of the evening just the way I had planned to, sipping Jager bombs on the second floor looking down over the moshpit admiring the power of chaos that beat through these beautiful souls.