There is a poem framed on my desk at home, one which I wrote more than a year ago now, that makes me pause every time it catches my eye. It takes me back to a moment which wouldn't seem special or out of the ordinary to anyone else but which imprinted itself into my memory for so many reasons.
Working in my old office, I would look out onto the road below during the day and would always see the same people roaming without purpose, drifting like sea plankton, not in any rush. Some were obviously lonely or had difficulties with life, their general unease etched in the folds on their faces. There were two men in particular who always caught my attention.
One was a bearded, striking looking man who would always wear a well worn pin stripe suit splattered in paint and no shirt underneath the blazer. He wasn't someone you could easily ignore yet he was someone people desperately wanted to as he obviously scared them. He would always be walking stridently, carrying a blank canvas that he had bought from the nearby 99p shop and I couldn't help but stare and be fascinated by him.So many times I wanted to run down onto the street and talk to him and ask about his life. I imagined he was an artist who had lived an extraordinary and exotic life but had somehow managed to end up in Liverpool riding the 79 bus with his canvas and paint splattered suit. He had the look of an aged film star, like Marlon Brando or Oliver Reed. He just didn't belong in such a mundane setting.
The other guy sat on the bench by the bus stop every day and people would stop and talk to him all the time like he was some sort of oracle. He seemed totally in his own world, oblivious to his surroundings and just looked up at the sky. His face was so unusual, like it had been drawn by charcoal. His eyes were dusty and dark and his nose was like a pig's snout.
One day, I saw them sitting together on the second man's bench. They were talking like old friends, sat back relaxed like they were sitting on a beach on the French Riviera. They seemed so in tune with one another, discussing life like they had all the answers. It was one of those moments that really struck me and made me think about the perception of people like this, who are a bit different to the norms we are used to. People would look at these men with judgement and often pity without knowing them or listening to their story but I admired them for being themselves and felt like we were the ones missing out on not knowing them. I hoped they were oblivious to judgment and that whatever their life was like, that it made them happy. At that moment I felt a real sense of humanity and camaraderie between the two men which as cheesy as it may sounds, really made me smile. I wish I had heard what they were talking about but as I didn't I can only imagine.