Sat in a coffee shop on a day in May that felt more like a raw, dark, blustery November day in Ohio. I immediately noticed a man slumped over his coffee cup yet within a few moments lifting his body up ever so gently eyes still closed in on his wrinkled, red face. Bushy eyebrow bowed offering homage to a difficult life. Layers of clothes on his body, a gray knit hat on his head, and a stuffed backpack at his feet. I suspect either he’d been traveling through the night, or had arrived in a warm coffee shop, a few dollars in his pocket enough to pay for a cup of coffee which failed miserably in keeping him awake. What did he look like as a little boy, I wondered. I remembered riding the COTA bus years ago wondering what the adult riders were like as children—now subdued, going through the motions of riding downtown to work.
The older man’s head meets his fist, a soft fist. Red face, head lifts in this struggle to stay awake or simply dance in this gentle lifting and lowering of his head and torso. How much he looks like Exhausted America right now fatigued by grief, fears, and violence. Quietly placing his head fully on the table, he snores softly.
Coffee with caffeine will not rouse him, this Santa look alike, a doppelganger of Kris Kringle unable to sleep in a bed at night. Too burdened by the frigid air, the harsh winds of indifference to his plight. He is the human in me wanting to sleep for 30 years in a spell cast by fork-tongued liars about who you are, how lost you’ve been, the Witness you became in the wilderness of courage. His sneakers conceal feet that have walked a million miles in loneliness rather than riding in a sleigh or practicing flying the globe in record time. Wrinkled face lifted now as his bowing and gentle rising dance continues. Does his body not know the comfort of complete surrender to the table, the thick flat surface of support? Shoo Bop music plays here in Stauf’s German Village. Time for me to go to work at the Fudge Haus. Celebrating a swap of a mattress in which I am blessed to rest my body at night.
Will I ever live in a world in which everyone gets to safely sleep at night or on a rainy, cold morning?