Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Please Take Care

This morning I woke up at 4:30 AM to catch the 5:56 AM MARC train from DC to BWI Airport. I showered, I sang, at 5:00 AM I took one last look around my apartment, grabbed my bag and locked the door behind me. I was on my way home to Cleveland for Christmas with my family. I was rushing through Union Station headed to the ticket counter when a tall dark skin man in his mid to late forties approached me. He was carrying a plastic grocery bag with things in it that I could tell were not groceries but I couldn’t tell you what. He wore a pair of blue jogging pants, layers of shirts and a scarf. His skin was chocolate smooth and his hair sprinkled with gray. I don’t recall ever seeing this man before. He appeared a stranger.

“I don’t mean to bother you,” he said. I knew where this was going. “I am HIV+, my lover of several years passed away not too long ago, I have an appointment at Whitman Walker Clinic later this morning, and right now I am hungry and I have no money for food. Will you please buy me something to eat?” That is not exactly where I thought this was going. I was on the right train but the wrong track. More often than not I ignore requests from a passersby for dollars or change. I never know when to believe them and sometimes I don’t know if I have it to spare. "Spare some change and your luck might change," said one playwright. Today I was in a rush and this man could have been lying to me and I will never know if he was or not, but I told him to walk with me. We headed to McDonald’s. As we walked, we talked and he thanked me for my kindness. I told him it was not a problem. He asked my destination. I told him I was headed to the airport on my way to Ohio. He said he’d been to Ohio once. When we arrived to the counter, he ordered, I paid. He turned to me again and said that he appreciated what I was doing for him and I told him that, “We have to take care of each other.”

I bid him adieu and headed to purchase my ticket for the train ride to BWI. I boarded the train, scrambled to the airport and within an hour I was in the sky and within an hour of that I found myself here at home, in Cleveland. The snow was just beginning to come down and it has continued for the better part of the day and this evening. I look out my mothers’ living room window and see the picturesque scene of Christmas in Cleveland, a white Christmas.
I’d gone through my day not thinking about the exchange I had with the man from this morning until I looked at a picture that sits next to my mothers bed of my uncle who died in September 2000 of complications related to HIV. My mind hopped to his funeral and the last words I spoke to my uncles longtime on again off again lover who hugged me on his way out of the funeral home. I said to him, “We have to take care of each other.”