“Hello!” I gasp as I pause in my tired, sweaty trot down Woodward Avenue.
“Hello there!” he responds from the shade of an overgrown bush. “You like to run?”
“I do. But its too hot! Even now, in the morning” I pant, catching my breath. “I like to take care of myself.”
“That’s good, that’s good. You eat right?” he queries.
“Haha, for the most part. I avoid pop, junk food, try to eat more fruits and veggies. I give myself a break sometimes, though” I laugh.
“That’s right, you’re doing good!” he exclaims. “Just avoid candy.”
“I know, its nothing but sugar!”
So began my conversation with a slim, middle aged, African American man sitting in the shade on Woodward Avenue. Not too much further into the conversation, I asked his name.
“Gregory. And yours?”
“Rachel. Nice to meet you Gregory!”
The conversation continued. I originally paused in my run because I was seeking a homeless person to talk to – the two I usually saw begging near I-75 seemed to have more sense than to be out on such a hot day. Gregory was the first person I came across and seemed to fit the bill. However, as soon as he began to speak I realized he was quite lucid, articulate in fact. Intrigued, I sat down next to him for a conversation of exercise, health, family, and belief.
“What do you believe, Rachel?”
“…I love Jesus. I try to follow what he teaches, but it is hard. So hard! What do you believe, Gregory?”
“I am a pagan. Have you heard that before?”
“Yeah, I have.”
“I believe in every religion. I believe in God, and I want to know as much as I can about God. I also want to know the Devil, all I can about him. Allah, Krishna, Buddhism, I believe it all.”
“Yes. Knowledge, expanding your mind, is so important. I don’t like the conversations people around here have.”
“Very surface level?”
“Yes, nothing to them! I want to go deep when I talk to people.”
“Like we’re doing now!” I smiled. It’s not just people in Highland Park, Gregory. But I think you know that.
The conversation continued for a while longer, and I found out Gregory loves to read, and was planning to go to Hamtramck’s public library today to study. He told me he wants to be a philosopher, and I claimed he was one already. A coffee shop philosopher, or a street philosopher. Odd and enjoyable, this chance meeting of kindred spirits.
“I will see you around! I walk to Aldi all the time!” I resumed my run, pleased to have met someone new, and looking forward to our next discussion.