July 13

I sit in AoSA coffee, drinking a cappuccino. And, someone enters the room with a familiar face that I cannot place. He looks at me as if he recognizes me, communicating with eye contact, and gestures over for me to sit down. I see a Bible at his table. I sit behind my laptop in a slight panic, because if I recognize this man I do not remember his name, and I stare at my table for something to bring with me as a form of conversational shield. I brought a contemplation book (probably better than the queer bible books in my backpack) across the room and sat next to the man.

“Bryan,” he said his name was. He smelled like cigarettes. He missed a tooth or two, with strings of yellow food between his teeth, and crumbs on his chin; he had those intense and pacified wide eyes, the type that religious people often have. And I introduced myself, showed my book of Christian contemplation, and he said he wasn’t really familiar with it, before he began mumbling to me quietly. “I’m sorry,” I said, leaning into the smell, and he repeated what he said quietly. He leaned back and continued to mumble, barely audibly, and I shrugged at him. He mumbled more, and I made eye contact with his intense eyes and shrugged again. And, after noticing that his leg was shaking with anxiety, and noticing the perpetual lull of this broken conversation, I said, “well, I have stuff I need to get done over there,” pointing back to my seat, and he, apologetically, said “oh ok oh ok,” nodding, and I asked, to taper the conversation off, “remind me of your name again.”

“Bryan,” he said, and I intentionally repeated, “Ryan?” He said, “No, Bryan,” and I said, “with a B,” before shaking this man’s hand—he was smiling. I stood up and walked to begin typing this on my laptop.