Emotional Chameleon

I watched them, as I walked.

I watched them, as they walked — in the same direction, on the sidewalk opposite the street from me — just a few paces ahead. 

They walked together, in stride, in like or lust or some semblance of love. They walked intimately.

I watched them – his left arm wrapped around the small of her back. His hand, out of sight to me, but presumably held against the left side of her waist — with precise tension, pulling her snugly into him. 

I watched them — he with his rigid and handsome frame, a tight tee accentuating his muscles, and a ball cap pulled over his head, indicating that some things are hidden, and that’s just the way it is. Her with a shorter white skirt — modest enough, but with frill and color contrast against her black top subtly drawing attention and prompting passers by to notice the length and movement of her attractive, toned legs. 

I watched them — me walking with the blanket I had just been using to sit on, draped over my shoulders, pulling me into myself and warming me against the night’s settling chill. He was funny — oh, I didn’t hear anything he said. But her laugh was unmistakable. 

They disentangled in order to cross the street. I’m not sure if I ever felt better. It was good to see other people separate too — even if it was just the visual representation of a shoe-full of steps. I felt everything in the moments I just described. It wasn’t sudden though. There was build-up. See, I had just come walking away from the first night of the summer concert series at the Foote Lagoon. Patty Larkin was singing. I hadn’t heard of her, but people a generation ahead of mine seemed more familiar. During the singing, I watched them — all of the couples, the duos, the ones with someone significant deliberately right next to him or her– the way they enjoyed the music. The way they all had, of experiencing and sharing everything together: The cold, concrete, amphitheater seats. The drink or plated meal from the nearby food truck. The music and the magic of the event. The hip swing and body sway matching the rhythm. I readily admit, it was beautiful!

I even smiled at it. I smiled the smile that sees a thing and knows it is good, but also knows it is a thing proven unattainable. I watched them too — a rare find in Suburbanville, families-only, great west, USA. No, not the two older ladies. Yes, the whimsical one in between them. The one with the cool, crazy-colored pants, the elegant white blouse, and her hair resting in an exotic bun on the top rear of her head. The one waving her arms at the bugs, or maybe to the music. The one with the warm and graceful movements. The one with the knowing smile. 

But where is my head at? I’m exhausted mentally and emotionally. Work has been tough this week. Errands and meetings, trying to set appointments, find a new apartment; things keep going wrong. I have had hardly a moment all week to feed my introverted self and recharge. A chill concert seems good for that. I heard — rather, I listened to maybe one third of a song. I’d been talking with a couple from church for a while, and then a homeless man I’d been getting to know walked by. I really and simply just wanted to sit and enjoy the music. But I had to engage him. I’d been wanting him to be my friend. 

He sat with me. He had a lot to say. Anxiety-ridden, meth-use-recovering, bi-polar, bloated and dehydrated, with an incredibly difficult past. A part of me ached for the music, for what all the other ‘theys’ were sharing. But the larger part of me ached to love and listen to the man next to me. To hear the unheard, to see the unseen, to love the unloved. He spoke loudly, right next to me, on the back row of the bleacher, frequently shifting his weight and constantly searching the surrounding with his eyes. With distrust. This, while hundreds all around us silently absorbed the tunes and musician singing not more than thirty yards away. If you know me, you know I was incredibly uncomfortable in this moment. I cringe at having attention drawn toward me, especially in large crowds. People were leering with cynicism. I could feel it penetrating the back and sides of my head and body. I desperately wanted to melt into the sidewalk beneath me, and further into the dirt beneath the concrete.

I have been in an extended period of self-work, and by some good grace, I convinced the notion of embarrassment beginning to take hold of me to take a hike. I realized in that moment, my friend, who doesn’t have a home or really any creature comforts, was also probably pretty uncomfortable. I could be discomposed for an evening, if it gave my friend a place and some solidarity. Besides, I am homeless in my own way; home is where the heart is. …That should be explanation enough. 

Fire Escape: home

The music came to an end. My friend and I parted. I collected myself and timed my departing steps amid the mass exodus to be in line with hers — the elegant, whimsical woman from before. I had no plan, but I was prepared to engage in conversation. We walked just feet apart. I watched without looking, ready. I could tell she saw me. I could feel it. But she did not look, and sometimes I require eye contact before my speech will come forth. I waited, as we walked, to no avail, until our respective feet led us in opposite directions.

She would never look. And it would never matter anyway. I’ve seen this before. It’s Groundhog Day for me. I am familiar with all of the directions it could go. They are all lovely directions for the most part. But. And yet. It’s just that…. Well, this unexplained, repeating mystery tripped up my mind. This is why my steps from here meandered in an aimless fashion toward my vehicle. This is why I realized for me it is just loving whoever needs it and will receive it.

This is why I watched them — the first them — so intently. It’s the only way for me to feel what I have never really known. I feel that couples’ like or love and laughter. I feel my friend’s homelessness and anxiety. I feel the bicycle-walking woman’s completely untethered joy and movement stemming from the live music. I feel sad. I feel a little happy too. I feel fortunate to have opportunity to be kind to others. I feel a lot, I guess.

Empaths — we are the chameleons of emotion. We are the intent watchers and seers, and therefore the possessors of the deep places of heart and soul. We carry the keys to unlock compassion. We are the ambassadors of affinity. We are the unnamed trustees of emotional connection. We are a unique and important component of the Greater Love in the world. 

Loveland, CO ¦¦  June 21, 2018

Copyright © 2018 Tack & Pine, All rights reserved.

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