This I Believe

summer - redmond, Washington
Entered on September 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Deteriorating Luxury

Out on the town and everyone around me is so busy.

“I’m busy too” I think to myself.

So busy, I’m thinking about how busy I am.

So there I was walking down high street and everyone moves very fast you know, and no one knows what side of the sidewalk they should stay on, left or right? Let’s just chose and go with it. Like cars.

Walking, I kept noticing the only other people who were going slow were somehow handicap, and so came the guilt. There I was feeling challenged and in need of a stimulant drug even though I’m not old, I don’t have braces around my legs or use crutches. I’m not blind in fact I don’t even wear glasses. I have very little brain damage if any. So how do these people all around me go about life so dedicated? I’m so non-committal.

Have you ever met a dog with three legs? I’ve met a couple and I instantly fall in love. Do I want to make up for the leg in love? Do I think that will work? I can’t imagine only having three legs when all the other dogs have four. Spending my days with no idea where that darn other leg went. The dog isn’t sad though. He’s happily trotting on. And So I say to myself happily trot on Summer grab a bone, catch a frisbee.

So anyway, back to walking down the street. I see a white haired man in his late sixties early seventies. He has his walking/seeing eye cane (don’t know the exact term) and he’s staying to the left, close to the buildings, but there are signs and carts and so many people going on the wrong side of the sidewalk. He’s not flustered. I’m flustered. Concerned, I want to adopt him. Be his eyes. He needs eyes. I’ll

iron his shirts. I see him bump into the carriage, run straight into a post and the look on his face could break your heart. So I run up to the blind man with the intention of asking if he’d like an escort. Ran up and then thought, “geez will I make him feel worse by suggesting he couldn’t make it all on his own? Will he yell at me? Hate me? Hit me with his stick even?”

Of course not! Back and forth almost asking, deciding not to, almost asking deciding not to, almost deciding almost…until finally in the middle of my last attempt his walking cane accidentally hit my foot and I said, “Oops sorry”

“Oh sorry” he said in his British accent.

“Would you like an escort sir?” I say sheepishly.

“I would LOVE an escort!” He says strongly, puts his arm in mine and off we go.

We walked along and he immediately says, “I hear an American girl.”


“Where are you from?”

“Seattle, Washington”

“Here on holiday?”

“Something like that” I said unsure of the reason myself.

“Do you like it?”

“Yes, very much, though I feel a bit over stimulated at times.”

“Hmm” he answered as people often answer me.


We walked a little further before he stopped to buy cigarettes. Standing in the doorway he said, “Thank you unless you have a moment to wait?”

I waited. Of course I waited. I’d absolutely waited. I needed time to let

him in on that huge warning label on cigarette packages (unlike the very small less caring American warning label) in England it takes up half the package: WARNING SMOKING KILLS! As long as I’ve decided to help the man!

His name is very dignified just as he turns out to be. I’ll protect his

privacy and call him Dr. Charles Thomas. The professor, radio host,

producer of educational programs for children, world traveler (traveled to places like Africa and Uganda to implement educational programs). Once while in Africa he stayed in a hotel of “deteriorating luxury” and woke up from jet lag to find him self on the balcony in the middle of police gun fire.

Deteriorating luxury? What a fantastic phrase.

He studied political science at Yale. Married a woman who fancies the

bustle of London while he longs for the country. Lives in a four story brick apartment built in 1850 with Anna, eight rooms and too little storage.

“We do require more these days it seems” I say.

Require? My things have been kept away in storage for the past year. My treasured collection of brightly colored dishes and cozy duvets were holding me back. I nest and I nest and I nest until I don’t want to come out. So I’ve very little things clinging to me and no place to call home. It’s a healthy homelessness, I think. It is an all or nothing, no mistaking my intentions, last ditch effort to be heard or to listen….or both.

There is no one answer is there?

Dr. Thomas hasn’t worked for years but just submitted a job application and isn’t sure if he’s more afraid of getting the job or not getting the job. He lost his sight completely nine years ago, but started losing it as a child. His best friend and best friend’s wife are coming from Vancouver Canada for a long holiday in two weeks. He doesn’t have a piano and doesn’t think one would ever fit in the doorway. He has a healthy fear of people’s intentions but a healthy trust as well. And sometimes he isn’t sure when to step in and help and when it is best to let be.

“Well this is it. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea dear?”

“No thank you” I say not wanting to impose.

“Enjoy your stay and thank you again” he says.

“Thank YOU” I say. “You were the bright spot of my day”

“Hmm. I’ve always wanted to be the bright spot of someone’s day”

As I turned and walked toward the corner café I felt reminded that life is about the connections we make out of a loving spirit and everything else is just deteriorating luxury.