While taking a walk with Thomas (a dog I’m looking after for the weekend) this evening, I had a brief chat with a fellow who was walking along the road carrying what looked like a saxophone case. Turns out it was, as he put it, “the briefcase from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” It held a Play Station and five games he was hoping to sell. The Play Station was for his sister.
We talked for a few minutes as I rounded the street toward the house I’m staying at for the night. He was going to go straight but he said he’d walk with me. He told me that his AA sponsor lived nearby. He shared that he sometimes has a hard time and has a tendency to drive his friends away every now and then. I understood. At least, I think I did. I was listening. He visited his mom for Easter. He asked how my day was and what did I do for Easter, an egg hunt, perhaps?
“Nothing. I slept in till 2pm…”
“Oh wow, a day off. That sounds nice!”
I shrugged my shoulders, “Nah. I’ve been sleeping a lot the past week, my depression and anxiety are acting up.” I looked at him.
He looked back, “Oh. Yeah. I get that.”
“But we’re both standing and out and about, so that’s good,” I responded.
“Yep.” I knew he appreciated the privilege it is to be out of bed when the depression cloud is looming. As we parted ways, he pointed to a house with a red door, “Is that where you’re going?”
“That’s my sponsor’s house.”
“Oh.” We exchanged our good evenings. The night was falling as we headed in perpendicular directions. I heard him yell something.
“What?!” I turned but only caught glimpses of him as he walked behind the trees lining the road. He yelled, “You should sleep in till 2pm tomorrow!”
“Oh!” I hollered. “No! I have to go to work!”
I felt a lightness as I unlocked the front door. I wore a slight smile as I removed Thomas’ leash. (After which, Thomas nuzzled his face between my thighs. Something he does at the end of our walks. I giggle every time.) I thought to myself, “What a lovely little connection. That felt good. I’m glad the stars aligned in the way that they did to allow for that interaction.”
We were two strangers sharing a bit about ourselves. The things that came up aren’t usual small talk. We went straight to the rawness of our experiences. Oh, you feel like you sometimes push your friends away, too? I have depression and anxiety.
Sometimes talking about uncomfortable or socially stigmatized things is easier with a stranger. Sometimes these tiny connections with strangers are intimate in a way that only strangers can create. Wearing our hearts firmly on our sleeves. Sharing little moments of humanity.