Biking home late from work, a route different from my usual as I’d stopped to pick up another drawing pad, some conté, a few more colours of paint, and launching off with bags dangling from the handlebars I saw a man I used to know.
Oh, it was a complicated story, an early education in some of the crueler ways of men, the contradictions a man can have, being not at all a good man and yet not quite evil – in other words, definite trouble.
But we are still friends, friends from a distance, so we embrace, each leaning towards the other with bikes balanced underneath, he holding the cell phone aloft momentarily, Dejame saludar, he says to the person on the other end.
To me he says, Call me, Write me, Let’s get together, and I grin and nod, knowing I never will, that I see him now as a symbolic figure in my world who appears out of the blue like a highly personalised superstition. Years ago I nicknamed him Eleggua – trickster, guardian of pathways. When he appears like this, mercurial, on a street corner, it strikes me like a message, an apparition, a reminder to look for crossroads, choices, pathways that may show up leading in different directions.
Pushing off into the evening, I wonder about his appearance, put on alert for what may lie ahead.
Rounding the corner on my bike from College heading up Manning, my attention is caught by a woman’s laugh.
She is a young woman – I see her pulling herself up from where she is leaning over with the force of the laugh at a small table outside Greg’s Ice Cream. And so…, she says, prompting the young man at the table with her to continue with his story, the story that has made her laugh so.
He has a baseball cap sitting smartly on his head, and something about the cap and his very upright eager posture suggests an earnestness, a sincerity, an openness, an undefiled quality.
And I feel their young courtship, such a pure feeling as I imagine it, because of the full-bodied way in which she let herself laugh in the summer night, giving herself over to his story, and because of the way he sits so fastidious and attentive to her. Coming from the chance meeting with the tricky, mercurial Eleggua, I allow their fresh, young, sweet spirits to wash over me in the night, and carry the feeling home with me, wondering what is next on the path.