I sat in the little park in front of that abandoned cotton mill after lunch. It was such a beautiful spring day with the trees now heavily laden with this year’s leaves. I stared at a bright and clear blue skyline lit by a gloriously shining sun. The sun sparkled off the many panes of the windows in that grand old mill across the highway from the park.
“Good day,” An old man with a cane said as he walked briskly past upon the sidewalk.
I waved and continued with my enthrallment in the beauty of the day.
“Hey,” He then said loudly and started to walk towards me as he turned. “Your John’s son, aren’t you?”
“Shit,” I mumbled under my breath as my solitude was disturbed. I walked down here to escape other people. Not to get embroiled in mindless small talk.
“Yes,” I said putting on a feigned air of kindness and forgiveness.
“Your dad is a good man,” He said. “I have been trading with him for years.”
Luckily, the man didn’t talk for long and I was once again surrounded by the sounds of nature and not the cackling of another human being. The only sound marring my serene moment was the many raucous cars on the highway nearby. I realized how much I had missed the color and the temperate days of spring and summer after a long, drab, and brown winter. Just as nature is reborn every spring, so are my spirits and demeanor. I experience a renewed vigor with regards to life this time every year.
I sat thinking for the longest time about my recent life these days as two pigeons cooed and marched around at the foot of my feet. I tossed them some crumbs from the packet of cheese-on-wheat crackers I was munching on thoughtfully. I thought of Rosa and George, of Dumpster Diving Dan and Dexter (who I never write about), and the various misfits and characters that inhabit my unorthodox life; all people who make my life so interesting, vivid, and complete. I know what to expect from these people and what you see is what you get. Unlike my father’s many wealthy friends driving their BMW SUVs as they rush home from stressful jobs and hurry to take the rugrats to soccer practice. There is just so much more to life than such things I have learned and I have lived that life and know the difference. I was once very wealthy and now live on $837 dollars a month. I have something supremely precious that money can’t buy and that is time to think, write, and enjoy the company of my friends. My days aren’t filled with the mindless chase for food tokens and pieces of green paper to pay off borrowed debt and borrowed time.
I finally roused myself from my moment of solitude and began the walk home serenaded by the many songbirds singing and jubilantly rejoicing in the arrival of spring. Good days like today make me glad I am alive and that I can appreciate the many small gifts I am given on a daily basis. Good friends, sober times, no voices rattling around in my head, stable and close relationships with family; all things that make life worth living and that no amount of money can buy.