I was sitting in my neighborhood coffee shop working on school work and listening to the people next to me talk about their budding and/or failing relationships. I love twenty-somethings.
As it approached closing time in the cafe, I packed my stuff and decided to, even though it would land me there a little early, head down the street to where I was meeting up with friends. I popped in my ipod and put it on shuffle to see what fate had to offer me that day. Fate and I are on good terms recently; Feist, Brett Dennen, and M Ward accompanied me on my walk.
Nearly at my destination but about thirty minutes early, I decided to take a seat in a small urban park just outside of Children’s Memorial Hospital. With prominently placed signs demanding that there is no alcohol consumption or solicitation, I knew what activities typically took place in this park. I walked into the small space that is nicely shaded by beautiful trees and happened upon five men, one sleeping, two having a conversation, one just sitting, looking around and thinking and one more who must have just arrived before me with his bike leaned on the bushes behind him and looking for something undoubtedly precious in his backpack. I sit down and I pull out a notebook to jot some things down: ideas, a to-do list, doodles of my name… y’know, very important stuff.
As I wrote and drew my name in block letters in my ever important notebook, out of the corner of my eye I saw a dark, quick moving, living thing scurry from the bushes in the center of the park, under my bench to the bushes behind me. I gasped and cringed, both startled and disgusted, and the man, the one who was sitting, looking and thinking, laughed out loud at me.
“Was that a…?” I couldn’t even speak its name.
“Yeah, that was rat,” he laughed, “there are a lot of ’em in here.”
Seeing me cringe again and struggle to make a decision about how much longer I’d stay there, he laughed again and shook his head.
Most of the time, being laughed at is not a pleasant experience for me. I feel embarrassed and usually want to hide my face– it makes me want to run away from the laugh-er. But this time as the laugh-ee, it somehow made me feel more connected.