I loved university. I loved being up to my eyeballs in something I was fascinated with. The challenges and deadlines were all bonuses on top of the actual subject and I rose to greet each one. Anyway that’s by the by, so I’m in the lecture theater and the lecture is about to end. I know I’m getting a phone call very shortly so I excuse myself to go outside to wait for the call.
I get outside and there’s a kid doubled over, sitting pretty much folded over on the side bench. I wander to the bench, my phone out, texting and looking up as I walk. And I sit down on his right side. He shuffles over a little to make room. He is not moving much and my curiosity gets the better of me and I surreptitiously glance sideways at him. Yep, he is totally bent in half, but I do see his phone in his hand and he’s got his left hand side of his face plastered to his phone. Not the left hand side as in, his ear and talking, I mean like with his eye and not talking. Possibly taking a picture of his eye? Or the pupil of his eye? So without thinking for another second I pipe up with “I think you need glasses by the looks of things!” and chuckled a little, breaking the ice and everything. And this is my problem – my brain doesn’t engage with my mouth or vice versa – they work independently (against me!) so this is where I have ended up with this Foot in Mouth Disease – I’m a a frequent flyer.
Well, this kid looks up at me and one eye is covered with that cloud, the cloud that means that they can’t see much of anything out of that eye and the other one is scarred too.
He says, “It’s the only way I can see my texts – glasses won’t help…” I’m sitting there like an idiot. But I did what I usually do and chose not to ignore the elephant.
“So what happened to your eyes?” I asked.
He looked up from his phone again – well, as best as he could, and explained that he had been walking down Queen Street and it was winter. A super stormy day, and Queen Street can become like a wind tunnel on days like that. He had a jacket on that zipped up and as he grappled in the wind with it, the zip sliced across his eye, blinding him totally in his right eye and severely impinging on his sight in his left.
“I’m so sorry dude – really impressed you’re at university…I didn’t mean to be rude by the way….” I trailed off. He smiled, “It’s OK,” he says to me, ” at least you didn’t just walk away – that’s the worst. Everyone knows something’s up with my fricken vision. Lots of people don’t know what to do when they’re confronted with something unexpected…”
We were silent for a split second.
“I’m sorry this happened to you…. but I see in spite of a universal fuck-up in your life, you’re still here, still givin’ it all that!” he laughed at me and I laughed too.
“Often people so let the wrong things define who they are, or the worst things. The fact that you rise above this defines who you are.” He looked at me with a serious frown, somewhat created due to his lack of vision.
“Thank you for that, I needed to hear that right now…” he said.
I didn’t know his name but I did know much more about him than just some letters to identify him to his friends, family, fellow students and work colleagues. Not only that, but I found out even more about myself, or maybe about people. We all share commonalities – common likes, enemies, feelings, injustices etc. We all share bonds and those deeper threads of what make us who we are are far more interesting and important than your name, your clothes, your home, car, bank account…we truly are here to fill our souls and not our wallets. I take my soul with me when I go – I will leave my earthly belongings behind.
© Kait King, 2015