Do you like talking to strangers? It's pretty cool, the conversations you can have with people when you're open enough to listen. William told me he could change my entire world in two minutes.
The other day I was at Katoomba library at closing time and I hadn't finished yet. Twice I was asked to leave, by very friendly staff members. I picked up all trailing messy accoutrement that follow me everywhere I go (objects so annoying) .. and went outside to loiter in the hallway next to the public toilets. The cleaner asked me to leave, so I went outside in the freezing and sat down on concrete. Shout-out to concrete for being more cold and hard as we get older.
So I'm there finishing something on my laptop as if my life depended on it because probably at the time it probably really did feel like my life depended on it. Can't even remember now. Obviously my life didn't depend on it after all. Odd saying, "life depends on it."
I was there riding solo and suddenly this guy appeared out of nowhere, huffing and puffing so loud. Muttering, willing himself up the hill. It's a bitch of a hill, that one. He was kind of chanting, talking to himself in the third person. (Or second person? I get confused.)
"Come on William you can do this one more step just one more step."
I watched him. I watch people a lot. He grabbed the railing right next to me, poised. We were the only people there and he looks over to me and and asked me who I am.
"Eden. Well, Eden is just my name. It's not who I am."
Things are more than their labels. William said my name a few times, like I used to say it to myself as a kid, laying in bed trying to go to sleep. You ever say your name to yourself so many times you end up spinning out?
"Well Eden. I know things. I know so many things I could tell you and can change your whole world in two minutes."
BEAUTY. So I get all ready for my world to change in two minutes wouldn't you? He cleared his throat. People walked by, stepping out of his way because William was the kind of stranger you give a wide berth to. It's better not to talk to people like William - odd people, could be on drugs, could be just crazy or drunk or violent. Something to definitely be wary of. Couldn't tell if he was homeless. He was in a rush to catch a train somewhere.
"My name is William Grey. But you probably won't remember that."
"Yeah I'll remember that." I piqued his interest because I was listening. Seemed like he hadn't been listened to in a while.
"I've got all the answers to the worlds problems."
It was pretty cool to finally meet someone who had all the answers to the worlds problems. Old people and young children often have a lot of the answers too.
He stalled for a while and didn't say anything. I waited expectantly for my whole goddamn world to change.
"Um. Ugh. I have to go. I have to go now."
I said ok. We kind of looked at each other with so much to say but he had a train to catch with his bare hands and I had to finish writing something that my life depended on. He looked as wistful as I felt. He would have been in his twenties. Nice clothes. Dreadlocks. Backpack on his shoulder. Strange aura.
"Eden, it probably should have been really nice to meet you."
It probably should have been really nice to meet you.
That sentence was so beautiful that later on I text it to myself. We said goodbye to each other and I was so struck by this guy walking through the world. I snapped a photo of him walking up the street, if you zoom in you can make him out up there near the Carrington, between those two white poles.
It's possible that William can change somebodies whole life in two minutes. Not my life, on that day. Somebody else's. All the answers to the worlds problems can most likely be covered in two minutes because life is probably much more simple than we realise.
(I started Street Talk in January 2013 with the intention of doing one a week. Then all these Things Happened and life went careening off its axis like that scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when all of those freaky spirits come out of the Ark and melted all the people's faces like molten lava, etc. William is number 42 .. we'll get there. Better late than never.)
Previous Street Talks:
1. Noelene the Young
2. Megan the Mouse
3. Harpal the Australian
4. Darren the Artist
5. Jo the Interesting
6. John the Telstra Guy
7. Michael the Photographer
8. Peg the Lady
9. Jeff the Preacher Man
10. Andres the Cobbler
11. Honey the Prostitute
12. Mark the Masseur
13. You the Blog Reader
14. Jo the Podiatrist
15. Casey the Uni Student
16. Dream the Horse and Carriage Driver
17. Tamas the Hungarian Accordionist
18. The Dignified Trolley Ladies
19. Alex With The Studded Hot Pink Belt
20. Leaf The Fallen
21. Bel Of The Library
22. Jay And His Big Issue
23. Emma The Adult Shop Cashier
24. Teena, Saver Of Dogs
25. The Luna Park Face
26. Gary The Missing
27. Kristen at the Elephant Bean Cafe
28. Uncle Paul
29. Jess The Mama
30. The Two People At The Checkout
31. Alfie The Pourer
32. Breaking The Rules With Captain Starlight!
33. The Woman In Line At The Bakery A Few Weekends Ago
34. Dog The Dog
35. Julia Gillard The Person
36. Nancy The Badass
37. Bruce From The Psych Ward
38. Jeremy The Costumeless
39. The Women in the Morgue
40. The Lady Whose Name I Didn't Quite Catch.