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I tipped my face up to the warm, buttery sunlight that I was riding into on my way to work. The streets were full, vivacious, and a tough little breeze was toying with my hair, turning and tugging the small twists as I pedaled. Mmmmm; it was going to be a good day – I could smell it on the air.
As I turned a corner, I noticed something out of the ordinary – someone sitting cross-legged on the sidewalk outside the deli. Oh, man. I could never stand to see homeless people – they are targeted simply because they were already targeted - and hit - by poverty. But as I pondered whether or not I should buy them lunch or something, I found myself slowing, staring. This was no ordinary tramp. It was a guy about my age, maybe a little older. He wore a black leather jacket, and his clothes were clean and smooth. The boy sat straight up, his eyes trained on the street, and despite the fact that all he owned – a sleeping bag, a blanket and small duffel bag of stuff - seemed to be sitting next to him, he was almost shimmering with animation and confidence. It was fascinating - confusing. When I pulled up in front of him and he raised his face toward me, I nearly gasped – not only was he not pitiful, he was gorgeous. Freckles peppered a face that had been tanned golden, and the morning light was dancing in his mottled brown-and-blond hair. His upper lip was just a shred big for the lower, so he seemed contemplative, his mouth naturally shaped into a soft, sensitive frown. I had to concentrate hard to keep my jaw from dropping when he looked right at me – his eyes were a slightly misty green, but the slightest change in light could make them crystallize and explode with soft darts of light.
Ugh. I shook it off. I wasn’t looking to be with someone right now, and no way was I gonna let myself get attached to some homeless dude I didn’t even know.
“Got evicted, huh?” I said quickly, inadvertently sounding nonchalant. I figured he was probably like me – an emancipated minor, since he was too well put-together and calm to be a runaway.
He raised one eyebrow and gave me a crooked little smile. “Well, at least you don’t think I ran away. Actually, I’m waiting for someone.” He held out a big piece of paper to me. There was a girl inked on it, with curly ginger hair and laughter glittering in her eyes. Her mouth curved up in a slightly sheepish grin, and her flat little nose was wrinkled a bit, as though her boyfriend was teasing her. “She’s just a little taller than you, and she might have been wearing a beret. Have you seen her?”
“Hmm, sorry.” I said, but didn’t give the picture back. It was just so darn good. “Did you draw this?”
“Yeah,” as though I’d asked if he was doing okay.
“Wow. It’s just…”
He laughed here. “It does her no justice. That’s one face that can never really be put on paper – there’s too much in it for that.” The odd inflection pulled my gaze back to his.
“So what, this is your dream girl or something?” I inquired half-jokingly, my voice riddled with skepticism.
The boy nodded once, slowly and solemnly. “Yep.”
I almost laughed, but something in his voice made me twist my face in confusion instead. He was practically exuding faith, believing his words so deeply that I started to wonder how together he really was. Maybe it was the fact that the streets were so full, I felt safe. Maybe the unusual curve of his mouth had a stronger pull on me than I realized. Maybe I was drunk on sunlight and dreams, maybe it was God, or maybe I just plain went a little crazy, but instead of saying bye, then tearing down the street like Satan was behind me, I sank down on the pavement beside this weird, beautiful kid. “Tell me about her,” I said.