I step out the back door of my new building, and see a man in a doorway across the street. He’s sobbing out loud, his mouth open like a little kid.
It’s raining hard today and the train is packed, people stuffed close enough to smell. A young man gets on; he reminds me of a kid I knew in college. Open, freckled face, good raincoat. He’s talking earnestly to someone, but I can’t pick out who it is.
“Sure, they’re thinking, why does he get to stand there?”
I look closely at the woman next to him to see if she is the one he’s addressing. She looks closely at me. We both realize it’s neither of us, or both of us and everyone on the train. His hand holds the pole directly in front of my nose. He wears a ring on his left pinky; dolphins are embossed on the band.
“That’s why I’m the focus, that’s why they’re studying me,” he says.
“It’s not crazy to hear voices,” he says, “It’s just crazy to answer them.”
I get off at my station. A man stands just outside the turnstiles. He holds a Fed-Ex box. He holds it out to passers-by, asking, asking, but I can’t tell what it is he wants. I can’t tell what he wants, but I recognize the gesture, the heart’s need for something, and how many of us confuse one want for another? We all want something that we can’t always name. We all sob aloud – in our room if we have one – or quietly, hoping not to wake the person sleeping beside us. I turn away from the naked need of the man with the box, the sobbing man, the woman selling scavenged copies of Street Sheet, unable to answer, ashamed of the echoed need in my own heart.