Today, on the bus, I experienced profound sadness. Well, actually, it was as I exited the bus that it hit me.
I was on my way home from working in a cafe...I had to leave early because like an idiot, I left my ac adapter at home...when it happened. I was minding my own business, reading a C# programming book when a a 20-something Asian guy got on. He spotted my book and immediately launched into conversation. He told me that he was a CSS/HTML developer (Web Developer for the un-geeked) and he told me that he was a Junior, then a Sophomore, than a Freshman...when I laughed about his indecision, he explained that he had 2-3 years under his belt, but only 10 units.
"You're a freshman," I told him.
He asked what I did. I told him. He kinda understood. I think. And before I knew it, we were at my stop. I pulled the stop cord, got up, told him "Good luck", and exited the bus. As I stepped down onto the sidewalk, he was there at the doorway, and he said, loudly, so all could hear:
"How do I get in touch with you?"
I turned, my mouth probably stupidly open, not really knowing what to say or do. Just before the door closed I said,
"My Web site: cliffbrooks.com"
"What?" he said.
"C-L-I-FF-B-R-O-O-K-S dot com"
And the door closed and the bus was off.
Now most people probably wouldn't have answered, or shrugged, or acted like they didn't hear and just kept walking. The normal thing to do in such a situation, I guess.
I couldn't. The desperation and the oddness of it got to me. I don't for a minute think I'll hear from him again as I don't believe he will remember the address, or whether or not he even got the spelling, but that's not the point. He needed a human connection. I'm a human. I have a duty.
And maybe it's also because I know loneliness. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel it all that often, but I do feel it. But if I'm honest with you, and I see no reason not to be, mine is a self-imposed loneliness, and I probably don't feel it that much more than the next guy.
You see, I'm a loner. Through and through. Living alone is not only a choice, it's pretty much a necessity. It's how I thrive. Okay, that said, many of you probably find this at odds with my gregarious nature. That, my friends, is an uncomfortable facade. It's me being the person I think I'm expected to be. The person, at times in my life, I wanted to be. That's not to say that there's not a lot of me there, because if you maintain the facade long enough and fiercely enough, it becomes a part of you. And that's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it just is. I find that I talk way too much about nothing, because, you see, if I let the conversation lapse, the real me might come out. And I'll just shut up. And listen.
Sigh. So in a nutshell, as strange as the encounter was, right or wrong, I couldn't let my silence or the way things are get in the way. Whoever this guy is, I hope he finds someone out there to listen to him, to understand, and to fill some of that empty space he feels. Or just someone to talk to on the bus every now and again.