Nearly every Saturday, he sits on the planter wall, a few yards from his “home” set up behind some shrubs. Every Saturday, I am torn by two compulsions: connection and protection. Very rarely, our eyes meet and soul glances at soul. I fear his apparent instability, assuming he will snap. I suspect he fears my fear, assuming it will end in a call to the police. And so, the glance-avoidance continues.
Connection is a powerful compulsion. On my walks, I notice an immediate change of demeanor upon friendly eye contact: faces soften, shoulders untense, and mouths don a slight smile. I also notice that such momentary, soul-to-soul connection is difficult and rare. Passersby rarely look at one another, let alone see.
There is something broken and deeply disturbing about this isolation, this together-alone condition.