We agreed - never the types to argue with a baby - and ended our day at 8-o-clock, sipping frothy hot cocoa despite the 70 degree weather outside. We chose a table inside, and I immediately noticed a young man sitting alone at the table to the right of us. He looked to about twenty, dressed in a collared shirt, khakis, and white, velcro shoes. About two dozen Polaroid pictures laid before him. It was obvious from the velcro shoes and his mannerisms that this man was unique.
I watched him out of the corner of my eye as we sat there talking. He continued to admire the pictures, and eventually retrieved a plastic baggie from his pocket and began to collect the pictures. He then put the baggie away, placing the pictures again before him, smiling all the while.
My mind began to wonder, and I saw this situation through a mother's eyes - something I do frequently now that Baby B is in our lives. This was someone's son, alone, on a Saturday night, sipping from an empty McAllister's plastic cup, admiring rows and rows of Polaroids. I teared up immediately, imagining my own son seeming so socially discarded. Did he have a family? Was he waiting on someone? What if someone forgot to pick him up?
Noticing that I was choking up, B asked what was wrong. I tilted my head in the man's direction and B , with a heart just as big as mine, turned to the man.
What are your pictures of? B asked.
The man, startled, smiled at us.
My friends, he replied.
A conversation pursued. He graduated from one of the local high schools and worked next to Starbucks at McAllisters. He drank his tea unsweetened. He told us his name. We admired his pictures. We promised to come for lunch and visit him. He said he would like that.
We were two steps outside of Starbucks when I began to sob. The thought of this man sitting with pictures of friends instead of actual friends just tore at my heart. As we rounded the corner to head towards the parking lot, I peered through the window and noticed that the teenagers sitting next to us had now sparked a conversation with our new friend. I would like to think that we somehow inspired this interaction.
Once Baby B was snuggled into his carseat and we were driving home, B turned to me and said, "Ya know, there's a lot of stuff that just doesn't matter."
"I know...like coordinating curtains and pillows?" I replied.
It was not charity that drove us tonight. It was humanity. Plain and simple.
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you."