I was walking past Christina's ice cream in Inman Square a few days ago, and I suddenly realized that someone was missing. It used to be that I couldn't walk past there without being asked to purchase a street sheet newspaper by a very distinctive and peculiar homeless man. He was very tall (at least 6'2" or so), very skinny (couldn't weigh more than 130 lbs), very pale (practically transparent) wore all black leather (rather S&M), and complimented his look with leather gloves and large black umbrella (rain or shine, summer or winter).
He was exceedingly polite, mild mannered, and always very grateful if anyone ever bought one of his "street sheets." I was fascinated by him, and often tried to figure out his story. I discussed him with my friends and roommate, wondered what the ice cream shop owners thought of him, and even considered following him one evening to see where he went after he left his regular corner.
Did he have a home that he returned to each night? Did he live with his parents? In a halfway house? Behind a building? He clearly went somewhere, since he was never out on the street after 10 p.m., and he usually showed up again sometime in the late morning. What possessed him to dress like that and where did he get his clothes? What events had brought him to the corner of Prospect and Cambridge streets selling newspapers and asking for money?
I tried to be kind to him. Even if I didn't always buy one of his newspapers, I always smiled and said hello. I was a bit disturbed by him, but I also felt incredible sympathy for him. It was difficult to admit, but he reminded me of the saddest parts of myself.
So it was with some distress and embarrassment that I realized a few days ago that I hadn't seen him in months. Many months. I can't even remember the last time I saw him, but it has to be over six months ago. I don't even know what brought him back from the recesses of my mind again. I'd certainly walked here many times without even giving a thought to him until now.
It shames me that I could so easily forget this man. It seems I didn't really pay much attention to him after all.