Winter 2008-09, walking home from the metro:
Waiting for a walk signal I begin to overhear a phone conversation that the guy behind me is having, something about grieving. We cross and begin walking in the same direction and I am either a few steps behind or a few steps ahead the whole time. I'm not intentionally overhearing, I mean, he's having a cell phone conversation in public, but I wasn't able to escape listening either. We were walking in the same direction and there's only one side of the street to be on. The conversation is about someone who has passed away. Most of it is mundane, I don't gather many details, at first I thought a grandparent, aunt or uncle. Then he says "My landlord is calling, I need to take this." That didn't seem like a time to take a landlord's call - until I discover that the person who has died was his roommate and he is explaining to the landlord what has happened. The roommate was on his bike and hit by a car late at night. I can't imagine. I don't understand how the conversation could be so calm, so metered. I listen, hoping that the landlord is forgiving him on a month's rent until he can find - a new roommate? How to move on? Move out? He lives in the building next to me, so I think at least he lives in a condo unit with an owner and not a large building managed by the man.
Summer 2009, on the blue bus
Preppily dressed gay man gets one the bus, talking on his phone. He's doing a sort of phone interview with someone about AIDS support groups. He runs them. The person on the other end is looking for one. He explains how they work, where they'd be, who would be there. Did he just move to the city? Did he recently find out he had HIV? Sometimes I think the world thinks we have passed the difficult 80s-90s when AIDS activism was so front and center.
I listen to the conversation behind me between two girls and a guy, one of the girls who I had seen there before. They are talking about being in the army, holding guns that are too big for their hands. On the other side of the room is a man with one real leg, one artificial one (the kind people run in). It is patterned in stars and stripes. Were guns too big for his hands too?