I left the office during my lunch hour. The humidity was high but it was refreshing to leave the confines of air conditioned cubicles. I stopped at the crosswalk for all of two seconds before he leaned in, smiling, and spoke.
“The temperature is about as high as I could get my grades back in school. Low- to mid-80s.”
Very rarely do I find myself interacting with the midtown lunch crowd. Most times, I’m on a mission or so in my head it’s rare I part my lips for much more than a smile. If I do, it’s a simple hello or a scant response to a compliment. I stepped off the curb.
“That’s not so bad. Pretty good actually,” I said returning his smile. Without even thinking, my stride matched the pace of his limped gait. Before we made it through the crosswalk to the next block, we were engaged in a real conversation.
He asked where I was from, how and why I ended up in New York. Writing was the response that got his attention. He asked what I liked to write and read on the next block. He was a lawyer that loved numbers though writing was a large part of his job.
“Discipline! The discipline it takes,” he said shaking his head.
I rolled my eyes at him so hard, like, ‘you don’t know my life’ (but he did.)
“I’m struggling with that now!”
We had covered one block and were wrapping up the second as we approached a Barnes and Noble on the corner of 5th Ave and 46th.
“And our beloved book stores, becoming extinct..”
“That’s where I’m headed too!”
I was so excited that we were going to the same place that I interrupted. We were inside before I knew it. Just beyond the entry my new friend introduced himself as Alex. He asked my name and reached out to shake my hand.
“Well, Tavonne, much success to you with your writing.”
I thanked him and then he was gone. As I browsed the tables on the first floor, I discreetly scanned the first floor like a teenager nonchalantly looking for her crush. I thought I would have liked to ask him what he came to buy. He would have asked me the same.
“Nothing in particular,” I would have said. “Just looking for inspiration.”
I will take my encouragement in any and every way it finds me. Mature, book-loving, stranger lawyers that say all the right things or an ad on the roof of a taxi. It all has value for me.
There is a saying that I love and believe in fully: “what you seek is seeking you.”
I keep my eyes (and heart) open.