A Letter to the Man with the Green Apron

I passed you two months ago on the platform stairwell between the first and second floor of a grocery store parking garage mid-morning on a sunny Wednesday. It’s halfway through the work week and the sun hasn’t been out in eighteen-and-a-half days and I’ve been envisaging tanning beds and where to buy a watermelon out of season. But the sun woke both of us up this morning and although I’m soberly alarmed by the notion of a quick fix, something feels roughly accurate again. I have a lot to do but I’m doing okay and I came here this morning to buy apples and eggs and white wine.

You’re situated small against the cement four-step staircase with two packs of cigarettes and a red steel tumbler of coffee you made this morning and it’s 11:46 a.m. and I’m certain it’s cold by now. I’m taking my time because I’m alone and because I like to and because I’m flirting with the entryway forty feet from where I stand as the gloom of this garage clashes austerely with the sun spilling in from outside its bounds for the first time in weeks. It’s chilly today and there are other people here too, pooling in and filtering out, but they are all preoccupied and I don’t blame them. I have been too.

Today I’m not, because it’s been a hard season all around and I’m awake to that and I feel it and I’m wrestling some dragons and I’ve missed the sun. This morning the sun came back out—I’m not sure yet, but maybe in more ways than one. I don’t know you. You’re wearing a green deli apron and the hood of your sweatshirt hides your forehead but I can see your grey disheveled beard and I can see your dark brown hands and your weather-beaten shoes I can tell that you’ve worked hard. You still work hard.

I don’t know anything about you. I ruminate over your posture and I can’t tell if you’re sad, but I can tell you’re tired and I wonder why. I wonder if you’re tired because you were up late and then up early or if you’ve been tired for a long time now. I wonder what your favorite color is and how often you check your wristwatch and I wonder if you played sports in high school. I wonder how old you were when you first fell in love and whether or not it worked out and I wonder what you dreamed your life would be before you reached four feet tall.

The sunlight is sharp and the breeze is just curt enough for goosebumps and I don’t know your name but I wish I did. I wonder if you feel them too—the goosebumps. You and me and the people who hold the keys to all these cars are here somewhere and we’re all chilly and we’re dying to make it work and we’re more alike than you think. You look like you feel alone and I wonder when the last time it was that someone told you that you’re not. You were never alone. I’ve been there and I’m here now and I see you. Our eyes never locked but I see you here and I see you today and I see you right now. I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t. It’s been dim outside for me too.

To the man in the green apron—the sun came out this morning. For me, and for you too. There is always more.

Rachel Monahan is an old soul and young at heart.

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