story #2: the renaissance man
location: cafe pikolo, 3418b ave. du parc
A day I have waited for all week, and on its arrival: I am not sure if I have much I want to say aloud.
This story is about the man we had first made an acquaintance with in last year's dreary winter of 2020. In those times, Adam and I would sit on the frigid bench clasping onto our rapidly cooling coffees. Ice underlying everything, sludge in profusion under Avenue du Parc's rolling automobiles, we dutifully sat numbing the fears we incubated in ourselves in that season of time. It was also the point of time where I was preparing to move on, to graduate, and I had found my daily sight in the bathroom mirror to be one of complete disappointment compared to the dreams of the night I had just left. Safe to say, we were cold at all times.
(In the writing of this story, I sit in luxury of the raised perspective of times passed: It is a year later and I am in warmth sitting inside Pikolo itself, at a raised seat overlooking its industrial window that still displays the frame of the bench that held us so dutifully.)
The man I write of is a peculiar man. Due not to his speech, his pace, nor his take of a coffee order, but simply due to his time of appearance. This man is wound to a clock promising his passing between 9:30-10:30 each weekday morning. At bell toll, the man rolls down Avenue du Parc past our frozen feet on the pavement. The bicycle holds its master dressed in a cloak of wisdom and hair of pure snow, in a manner so strange to the ice underlying his tyres. It is the man that Adam and I have witnessed on many occasions, obviously only in passing, and been fortunate enough to meet his eyes on some mornings, his waves on the next, and soon enough his prepared right glance over to the bench that might hold us on any given morning. In short: the man has become an acquaintance of which we, nor him, know anything of each other, except that each holds the other's apparition as a sign to remain with hope.
(I have seen this man pass recently, a few weeks ago sitting where I sit now. I had been sitting with Adam and the "siblings-in-law" who were in conversation on their own future graduation, and I had allowed my head to slip to the left. At once, I recognized the white hair parted by a brown beret gliding through the frame of the industrial window below and across. It was the man, and my gasp became a simultaneous exhale of the fears I seemed to have carried with me that morning.)
There is hope, and it is this what I wish to write of today. There is hope that change comes, either in familiar passing or intentioned becoming, and that one does not remain stuck wherever they might be, as if frozen to a bench as if fate had written it so. These past few days have been like the common cold that visits me once in a while when I feel nothing but the cold wind everywhere within. On these days, I can do nothing else but sit, watch, and write. This is what I have done: I have written, of course, but nothing worth reading to the public eye. And so, when I remembered that Sunday now holds a reason for my audible presence, I thought of the man that had given us hope on the coldest days.
We call him the Renaissance Man, and now not just for his wisdom, dignity, and amiable gestures, but for the hope that he places in my own envisioning of my future. I am still at fault for the short-sighted perspective of my own life, to imagine that a few years from now is the end of it, for I can not imagine my own hair tufted, white and wise, under a beret of calm demeanour passing towards my next story. No, on days like the ones that have passed, I can only see the bathroom mirror reflecting the static eyes that are frozen in an appearance too ugly to be written. But then, there are days like today where I sit in warmth in my favourite cafe in my favourite city with my favourite person across of me that I think: "Perhaps, there is a beautiful future ahead of us, and it matters not if we accomplish it or not, but really if we were simply present for it or not."
It takes numbing the fears on a bench when all doors seemed locked, waking to eyes that look back without reflection, and passing on days that are too wicked to share. But then returns the warmth in the kiss of a morning rise, the pink hue of the waking street, the rumbling tummy of the coffee machine, and the knowing that things do pass when they have had their time.
If the man is my sign of hope for my future, I should hope he continues to pass for as long as I, and those sitting beside me, need his glance, wave, and pass.
(written at Pikolo while looking over and across for the happenchance of the man's passing)