Friday, August 19th, 2011

tumblingdays: Oversaturated Photo of a flower (intimate)
There is a man who shines shoes at my gym- Gary. He has a little station at the bottom of the stairs. He sets up a boombox every morning and plays upbeat music that gets me moving, usually stuff from the 60s and 70s. We chatted most days when I was there, usually about where I was traveling or how our weekends went.

I learned today that he died of a heart attack last weekend. He wasn't a "friend," in the sense that we talked about our personal lives or spent time together, but he was someone who I saw several days a week and who always made me smile. And, I like the think that I made him smile too.

There are so many people like this in our lives. I think of the people who aren't part of my close circle of friends but who make me feel like I am part of a community. There's the other people at the gym- the ladies in the locker room who chat while we get dressed in the morning and the people who work at the Y. There's Kate, who is usually working at Starbucks when I get my morning coffee, or the other people there, who I know on sight but no their names. There are the people I run into once a year or every couple of years on my job who remember who I am. I ask about their kids and grandkids or their latest traveling adventure.

These people fundamentally connect to the world in a way that close friends can't. They pull us out of ourselves and make us part of a larger community. I knew that Gary was having health problems, but I had no idea of the severity. It saddens my that he was found at his apartment by maintenance when they noticed that his car hadn't moved all weekend rather than being surrounded by friends and family.

I appreciate who he was to me- a man who made early morning workouts a little easier and put a little spring in my step on my way to work. I plan to spend this week trying to pay attention to the people who move on the edges of my life.

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