Blips in the Matrix

It’s not unusual for me to pack up a knitting project and head to a local caffeine dispensary on Sunday mornings and get a fix and some people watching in.  You see a lot of the same types of people; the college student trying to wrap up a project due on Monday morning, the mother out running errands with kids in tow, the group of friends that obviously stayed out late imbibing adult beverages the night before, the couple heading to or from church, but occasionally some variations pop up.

These blips in the Matrix are the ones that make life interesting.  Knitting has been a conversation starter on more than one occasion with a stranger.

While working away on a class sample for May, a gentleman in a red hoodie (odd for springtime in Georgia) walks by and says it’s nice to see someone making something by hand.  I said thank you, he keeps walking, and I continue my constructive fidgeting.  A few moments later, he’s back with a small rose picked from the bush outside and says “to brighten your day”.  Okay, honestly, for me this is odd, blame it on my extremely large personal space bubble and my natural distrust of people that stand out in a crowd for odd reasons (red hoodie), my hackles are up but I remain polite and say thank you again.

He plops down in the chair across from me and begins to ask questions about the yarns I’m working with, what I’m making, and how long I’ve been knitting.  I answer.  He then spills into his story, I begin to let my guard down a bit, he’s not a threat.  From here out let’s refer to this gentleman as James.

James is homeless, and does what side jobs he can to make money.  He can’t seem to find a “good job” because he had lost all forms of personal ID and can’t seem to find the help to get proper identification again.  All James seems to have in the world is a backpack with some clothes and a few personal grooming items.  He’s a former felon, openly admits to making serious mistakes in his life, and is bound to the state of Georgia, but would rather go to North Carolina.  Most of his crimes sound more like they were committed out of perceived necessity on his part for self-preservation.   He makes it clear that he’s not asking for money, he just wants someone to talk to him for a few minutes and acknowledge he’s a person.  I’ve barely gotten a word into this conversation, he obviously needed to get some things off his chest.

One of the most fascinating things I learned about James in our hour long conversation is that he is absolutely passionate about “rock hunting”.  He has the talent and knowledge to recognize where precious stones and crystals can be found in the area.  I won’t discuss his methods, because I have a hunch some of these rock hunts are on private property or within parks that could lead to more legal woes if he was caught.  I could almost swear at some point he could have attended geology courses somewhere, or possibly have taught them.  He takes his finds and sells them to a few local shops.

We wrapped up our conversation when he realized I had stopped knitting for well over thirty minutes, he felt like he was bothering me at that point.  He wasn’t.   He says bye, thanks me for the conversation and walks out the back door of the coffee house.  A minute later, he passes back through, places a piece of yellow quartz on the table where I was sitting, waves bye and keeps walking.

img_0996I believe everyone is put into your path for a reason.  I’ll admit I’ve been a bit more stressed than normal, and have felt overwhelmed to the point it’s hard to focus for more than a few moments.  I think James was a reminder that despite what happens in life be passionate about something you enjoy and be positive.

That piece of quartz, left quietly on the table, will sit on a shelf near other memories of people that have momentarily walked down my path with me.