“You! In the black shirt!”
“Yeah, you! Smile! You’re beautiful!”
A young couple waved at me from across the street, but I didn’t recognize them. He was shirtless, and his shabby blond hair was falling into his eyes. She was wearing a long brown skirt and eating the remains of a Subway sandwich.
It took all my effort to grin quizzically at them, and I was rewarded with cheers and happy hand-flapping.
Who are these people?
Curiosity and gratefulness grappled with my natural aversion to other humans and won. I crossed the street and approached the pair, silently rehearsing what I would say.
I introduced myself, and they gave me names I immediately forgot. Something like Appalaicha and Sunburst. We exchanged pleasantries, and I thanked them for the compliment — it was something I had been needing.
Sunburst — the woman — asked me if I liked to travel.
I said I did.
“Would you like to join us?” She asked me. “We’re on an adventure.”
I asked where they were going.
“We don’t know yet,” she replied with a smile that could put the August day’s sun to shame.
Could I? Could I pack a backpack, wrestle my cat into her harness, and wander the country with them? Would I see my sister, who was also living as a vagrant? Could I wear the same clothes I wore today for the next god-knows-how-long? Could I leave behind my family, my friends, a fiance I was fighting with, and roam with no destination in mind? Could I shirk all responsibilities and live “free” — however that could be defined? Could I join a pair of friendly strangers and live with no rules except those of survival?
It was a moment. Half a breath, a heartbeat.
I almost said yes.
I almost told them to wait an hour for me to grab what I needed. I almost threw caution to the wind and followed in my younger sister’s footsteps. I almost left behind everything I knew and loved for a couple of strangers and their promise of adventure. I almost changed my already-murky future for one that was entirely uncharted.
I almost did… But I didn’t.
The moment moved on. The breath continued, the heart played another beat.
I politely declined, saying I had travel plans of my own involving school. I thanked them for the offer and went on my way.
On the walk home, I saw Appalaicha and Sunburst waving at me from the back of a little blue car, their smiles brighter than the August sun.
I almost hailed them down to say I changed my mind.
What was something you almost did?