Sometimes the simple act of talking to another human being has the most profound…effect and affect..
I am reveling in some much needed time off from work. Since I am unable to afford a trip away from Colorado I am taking some time to just relax in general and spend time with family and friends around town. Today I had big plans to spend the day in Boulder. I wanted to get an earlier start than I did but I figure it’s my time off and I can leave as late as I like! I did make it to Boulder. It’s one of my favorite towns on the front range. Boulder is just such a diverse mix of lives: college students, hippies, yuppies, travelers, health fanatics, artist, just to name a few. I have been enamored with this city since I was in High School and would use it as the place to get away to. It has a way of making you feel a sense of independence; a lovely feeling to a 17 year old.
I took myself to Pearl Street Mall as it is the epicenter of activity and a primo spot for people watching. It was in the mid to upper 90’s and ducking into the little shops for a breath of cool air was welcomed. As I was making my way back to my car I decided that a stop at Old Chicago for a cold beer was mandatory. Beer in hand I settled back to “watch”. There was a man sitting right across from the exit to the restaurant. I heard several passersby call him Bill. He was interesting to watch and I’m not entirely sure he realized I was doing so. He politely asked nearly every person who walked by if they had any spare change. Most simply shook him off and kept walking, a handful stopped and passed him dollars or change, however not a single person stopped to talk to him. He wasn’t unclean, he never stood, didn’t even make much eye contact. I decided that when I left I would stop and chat with him, if he would let me. I asked him if I could sit and he said “Yes, ma’am, of course.” I asked him if his name was really Bill and he said “Yes, Billy Ray Clark…” and her proceeded to tell me about how his step dad adopted him and other tidbits about his lost name and his adopted one.
I asked questions: Are you originally from Colorado, What do you do with the money people give you, How old are you among others. He answered all my questions at length involving much more than my simple questions posed. He’s originally from Texas, he buys things for his apartment to keep pests out (mouse traps and Drano so spiders don’t come up the drain), he’s 55. He told me that at one point in life he wanted to commit suicide. Told me he knew just how he was going to do it; jump off a parking garage. He realized though that he could potentially fall on someone, hurt someone, hurt them by seeing what he had done to himself and that he came to the conclusion that “Life is worth livin’, ya know? So I decided that I wouldn’t do that.” Life is worth livin’ wise words from a man who asks for handouts. I smiled and said “It is indeed Billy.” When I left I shook his hand, told him it was nice to meet him and I wished him the best before heading on my way and take with me an interesting 30 minute conversation with a man that, in my mind, liked it just fine that I sat and listened to him for awhile.