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Monday, July 27, 2015

Unexpected Encounter

At 2:30 the guy who was installing my modem between 12:00 and 1:00 arrived.  He had called at 1:30 to say he'd arrive in about a half hour; he was coming from far away. When he called his accent, his tone, and his language choice brought the words "good ol' boy" to mind. When he appeared at my door, he was too young for my definition of the phrase: he was probably in his 20s, fit, tanned to an almost charred brown.

He apologized for being late, "It's been a hectic day." He put his phone, iPad, and keys on the coffee table and went outside to check the wiring. In the few minutes he was gone, his phone rang and rang and text message alerts beeped incessantly.

He came in and asked if his phone had rung. When I said yes, he took his phone and went outside. As he paced my sidewalk, phone to ear, his tone was intense and angry; I couldn't hear his words. After he finished the conversation, he came in and out of the house a couple of times and when not talking on his phone outside, was deeply involved in his texting. Observing this, I wondered if his delayed arrival had been as much from these exchanges as from the his 20-mile route to my house.

He came into the house once again, checked something and went back outside, this time only venturing as far as my front porch. With this closer proximity, I heard the words "duke it out with your new man"; I wanted to laugh (do people really use those words?) except that his tone indicated he was dead serious. He called the person who I assume was a very recent ex-girlfriend words I will remember but will not repeat here. After a few more angry remarks, he was off the phone and on the job again, as much as his constant texting allowed him.

Back in he came, careful (as he was every time he entered and exited my house) to pull the door shut, since it doesn't do so without a good tug. He began to set up the modem, but needed to call someone to get approval for something not listed in his work order. He set his phone to speaker phone; the man on the other end of the line was less than pleasant, to put it nicely. Hearing how the modem guy was being treated, hearing how he'd just a few minutes before treated someone else, and watching his continued entanglement  in text messages, I decided to direct my energy his way, wishing him peace, serenity, patience, and the ability to calmly let go of the pain he'd threatened to punch his way out of. I did this until he got off the phone and started talking to me. He commented on the bad attitude of the person he called. I agreed with his assessment without remarking on his own recent phone tone.

"How long have you been doing this work?" I asked.

"Five or six months."

"Do you like your job?

"No." He paused. "I'm just being honest; it's good money."

He finished setting up the modem and needed to settle the payment. I sat on the couch; he knelt on the floor across the coffee table from me.  Another speakerphone call, this one automated.

As the recorded voice spoke, he looked towards my mantle. A wall hanging by Penny Sisto lives there.

"Trayvon Martin?" he asked. With the foundation only of stereotypes and assumptions about this guy, I made the quick judgment that he wasn't too keen on the subject matter.

"Yes, though I didn't even realize it until I had it in my house."

Our voices confused the automated system that only accepted a yes, no, or a number spoken. He had to hang up and as he redialed, I explained that when I first saw the piece, I remembered a photograph that used to hang in my parents' house and now hangs in my sister's.

The eyes. It was the eyes that captivated me. And the butterfly. Memories and beauty compelled me to buy the piece. When I unrolled it in my home, seeing it only for the second time, I realized I was looking at a portrait of Trayvon.  I felt even better about my purchase.

His next question: "What's it made of?"

It is quilted and painted. He stood up to look closer.

"Can I touch it?"

With my yes, he put his fingers on the work, gently and reverently touching one part and then another. He was quiet. I can only guess that beautiful art, something that has always been in my life, is not part of his daily reality.

His work was done, so he thanked me, wished me a good day, and went on his way.

I wonder what the rest of the day delivered. I wonder if he did or is still going to "duke it out" with his ex's new man. I wonder if my directed energy or his encounter with beauty soothed his soul even a little.

Later in the day I went to a meditation. We were invited to breathe in the darkness of a situation, place, person, the world, and to breathe back to it/him/her light. Many places and people came to mind, among them the young man I had judged so quickly and just as quickly been reminded of the layers of complexity we all embody: aggression and tenderness, contempt and respect, agitation and calm, apathy and curiosity. I breathed in...and out...for him: pain to healing, darkness to light.

I hope that when he was in my house and again later in the day, he felt that he was breathing in light and releasing darkness. I hope he felt some relief and that it rippled out through his interactions with others. I hope that he experiences more beauty that causes him to pause, to touch, to slow down, to gentle his soul. I hope.

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