Being Seen


There is a man with no arms and no legs who lives in one of the houses along my running route. He has a pair of hooks for arms and gets around in a motorized wheelchair. He is an older guy, probably in his late fifties, and he is usually out and about in his front yard setting up a sprinkler for his lawn about the time that I run by every day so we’ve gotten into the habit of waving to each other. We’ve never actually spoken, but we have a funny little neighborly connection.

Some days, it is the highlight of my run. (You know, when I don’t have a series of deep thoughts or see a woman out walking her turtle). I think it might be a highlight of his day too.

There is something kind of nice knowing that there is someone nearby who keeps an eye out for me: not in a creeper, stalker-y way, but just in a neighborly way. In the kind of way that someone would notice if I suddenly stopped coming by. Not that he’d be able to do anything about it. To him I’m just “the running girl who waves”- he doesn’t know my name or where I live and I’m not *quite* consistent enough about running for it to form a reliable pattern except that it is always when the sun is low.

Still, it is strangely comforting to know that someone would notice if I were gone. I mean, I like to think that a lot of people would notice if I were suddenly gone, but I also think that it is part of human nature to have the deep down existential fear that we no one would notice if we disappeared. I think perhaps this is a fear tied to mortality: someday we will be gone, after all, and who will remember us then?

Well this got dark fast.

Anyway, so every time I go for a run I try to make a point of  waving to my friend with no arms and no legs.  Maybe our neighborly friendship isn’t actually about having someone to look out for me, but having me there to look out for him. I know that I’d start to worry if I didn’t see him regularly.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on June 17, 2015.

One Response to “Being Seen”

  1. Many people would miss you if you were gone.

    I can relate to this situation. While I’m not running like you, I do have people I regularly pass on my walk into the office from the bus stop. One gentleman and I would always say hi in passing each other. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen him for a while & hope he’s okay.

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