The first time I saw him it was a Monday in January and he was sitting beside the pool at the Travellodge off sunset with a black and white book in his hand and his face in the sky with a broad smile every time the sun came through the clouds. He was wearing this soft blue shirt that made him seem pretty and approachable. I watched him for awhile before climbing over the low metal fence. He seemed to be thinking a lot or on someone there was a lot to be thought about because he didn’t notice I was there. When he did finally notice he looked over his shoulder and squinted into the sunlight but smiled at me. It was so natural, as if he had been expecting me. I was plugged right into the conversation he was already having with himself.
“Have you ever noticed that when you watch someone leave you can feel whether or not it is going to be the last time you see them.”
“I don’t see how you could know that,” I said.
“Then you’ve never seen someone leave like that.”
He looked down at his book like he had forgotten he was reading it, or even holding it. I tried to imagine his whole life and whomever it was he had just said goodbye to and why of all the places in the world he was sitting at the pool at the Travelodge. The motel still had their colored Christmas light up around the awning of the rooms, I couldn’t decide if it was adding or detracting to the decour of the establishment and the feel of the evening or even this conversation. Made me feel we were in a different time and place entirely lightyears or just years away from east hollywood. If it’s possible to look both defeated and hopeful at the same time, he did.