Saturday, May 31, 2008


I did not actually know the old man across the street. To be perfectly honest, the only times I ever saw him were late at night when he was being rolled into a waiting ambulance. My part of town is full of these shadowy people, living in the myriad apartments that pack the old houses and hold a surprising number of inhabitants.

Early this Spring, the ambulance came again, and soon thereafter, the apartment across the street was emptied, and the old man's possessions were left on the front porch, a cardboard sign offering them free to whomever stopped by. I didn't go over right away, it felt strange. As if I were trespassing into his life.

About a week later, a friend and I decided to have a look. Another older gentleman, the owner of the building, was there as well. A friendly man, he remembers my parents from when they visited and asked about them. He told us that the old man form downstairs was dying, that he would not return home, and that now the decades worth of possessions that filled his generously sized apartment were his landlord's responsibility. He walked us through the apartment, an old house with beautiful dark woodwork and worn green carpet.

On the front porch, in a pile of old clothes and sheets, I came upon a treasure. Someone's handwork, unfinished. How did it come to be in this old man's possession? I somehow doubt it was his work. Was he once married? Was it a project inherited from some other relation?

I don't know what I will do with this, but it seemed too good, too intriguing, to pass by.

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