Category Archives: Fayetteville

A Gift From Him

The 30ish man sat on the grass next to the little pantry. Beside him was a box of Pop-Tarts that he had removed from it. As I walked up I couldn’t help but notice how dejected he seemed. A worn backpack sat to his right. Something about him radiated either loss or being at the end of his rope.

I put my unneeded jacket in the car. I remembered that I had an emergency $20 bill folded below my driver’s license. Removing it, I walked over to him and said, “Not that you need it, but this is for you and Merry Christmas.”

He looked up at me and at the $20 bill I extended to him. I can’t be sure what went through his mind but I saw it on his face. The $20 might as well have been a thousand and he was incredulous that someone was just giving him money. I’m not going to lie, but I felt this overwhelming urge to tear up.

“Merry Christmas to you too! God bless you.” He didn’t smile but his face registered a type of relief that I hate to see on someone else’s face.

“God bless you too,” I told him as I smiled and walked away.

I don’t write about these moments to make myself feel or look better. The moment already elevated me and gave me a boost that I didn’t even know I needed.

I hope the man remembers that life is sometimes good and surprising. I know I do. I wish I had a thousand to give him, no matter what he might do with it.

Love, X

Sunday Night Tomfoolery

Last night, as I winding down and trying to sleep in my actual bedroom (instead of the living room), I went outside one last time, letting Güino prowl the landing. There were several police vehicles near the entrance of the apartment simplex, lights off. I heard whispering. When I looked down to the bottom of the landing of the stairs I use most, there was a huddle of police officers standing there, talking in subdued voices, about five feet away from me.

Because I’m me, I leaned over and softly said, “Don’t let me make you nervous.” ALL of the officers looked up at me in unison, surprised. All but one nodded but didn’t say anything. They whispered some more and then all walked away toward their parked cruisers at the dumpster. Two of them exited and drove across the street to the gravel parking on the opposite side of the train tracks.They remained there until I finally slept.

The dad from the apartment on the end said something. I said, “WHAT was that?” He laughed. “I don’t know, but they are here for someone, and it ain’t us.” We both laughed.

It was the weirdest moment of the day, one similar to one I predicted at the end of a Sunday. Earlier in the afternoon, I told a neighbor, “It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Something weird like a domestic disturbance always happens.” I didn’t know I was speaking prophecy when I said it. 🙂

I wouldn’t have been surprised if a SWAT team showed up. Like most apartment simplexes, this one has its share of miscreants.

The parking lot is quiet this morning, with very few vehicles.

I don’t know what I expected when I got up this morning. Because I didn’t sleep deeply, it feels like it was a dream. I’ll bet whoever was the focus of last night’s shenanigans slept less than I did.

Happy Monday.

Love, X
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Camels For Christmas

Because it’s Sunday evening, I went to the inconvenience store. Walking in, I realized I left my wallet at home. Having tried to do so before, I know they don’t accept good looks in lieu of payment. Even so, I’d still be short, according to popular opinion.

Arriving back home and giving kitty treats for the tenth time today, I hung my jacket up and decided to skip going back. I drank a protein drink and without thinking about it, found myself back in my car (with wallet) and driving. Going North on Gregg, I watched a white sedan weave and swerve for no discernible reason. Another intoxicated driver. Either that, or she was Tiktoking with an invisible phone.

I turned right to get away from her indirect line of direction and went to one of the fancier inconvenience stores. Outside, two men were arguing. To me, it seemed like one of the two had asked for money from the other. One was a younger man, dressed well; the other, not so much. I could have been wrong. Instead of hesitating, I walked up and said, “Hey Steve, I haven’t seen you in a long time!” The younger man looked at me and tried to figure out who I was. “Do I know you?” I laughed like a goof. “Yes, I’m X. Didn’t we go to school together at Fort Smith?” He shook his head. “No, I don’t know you and I didn’t go to school in Fort Smith.”

It didn’t matter. The spell had broken. He walked away, leaving the less well-dressed man standing there.

“What do you need?” I asked him. “Honestly. Beer, food, cigarettes, a ride, just ask.” I smiled.

“I’d like some smokes, honestly,” he said.

“What kind?”

“I love Camels but will smoke anything.”

I grinned again to let him know I was okay and that he was okay. “Be back in a minute.”

As I entered, I recalled memories of my Dad smoking Camels. He died on November 30th, 1993.

I exited the convenience store and handed him a pack of Camels and a lighter.

“Have a good night. And be careful of people. Not everyone is as great as I am.” We both laughed. He could tell I was being funny for his benefit. “My name is X. What is your name?”

“Jim. Thanks, X.”

“Jim? Have a Merry Christmas.”

“You too, X.”

And so it begins.

Love, X
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The Other World Nearby

My apartment simplex can’t be described as pretty. It doesn’t need to be. I wish it were a wash of color and eccentricity. It has its pockets of interest and intrigue. With a bit of effort, I could transform the entire look and perception of this place. No matter how wild my tastes, there’s no way the result could be lesser than the status quo.

At the street where the parking lot meets Gregg, Poplar Street ends at the railroad tracks. I listened to the excursion train passing this morning as I lay in bed, not wanting to exit its warmth, even as I felt the urge to jump up and find the cool air outside to greet me – and wave at the passersby on the train. At the terminus of Poplar, there’s a crosswalk that leads to a trail pass-through to the neighborhood behind me, serpentinely connecting Gregg and Poplar to Yates, which branches to several other areas and College Avenue.

I love this pass-through. It opens another world to me without much walking to enter it. When I lived on Vanleer in Springdale, it was land-locked in a huge loopy and closed set of streets. There were a couple of places where such pass-through sidewalks or trails would have made using the neighborhood safer and more convenient. The pass-through here at Gregg is relaxing, efficient, and a welcome feature of this area. It’s genius. It’s Fayetteville.

This morning, as I let my feet lead me through the back neighborhoods, it was beautiful and much warmer than you’d expect for mid-November. I could smell the mountains of untended leaves, as well as hear the voices and sounds of hundreds of people moving about on their Saturday mornings.

Every person I waved to waved back. One person offered me a cup of coffee to go. “Next time, I promise!” That’s customer service on a neighborhood level.

I took a picture in front of one of my favorite nearby houses. It’s on Miller Street. It makes me think of the quote, “If yellow is such a happy color, why don’t more people use it?” This house, with its screened-in porch and simple old-style lines, strikes a chord in me. It’s the perfect house to imagine Thanksgiving dinner, full of raucous people and mountains of untouched food on every counter.

Thanks for the trail connection through the neighborhood. It’s made a world of difference for me and my link to those around me.

Dear Fayetteville

If people want to see more positive posts, I have one for y’all. I moved from Springdale a few months ago to an older apartment off of Gregg.

There is theft here, gunshots, and activity around drug dealing that gives me pause. That was true in Springdale, too. Where people live, idiocy follows. The majority of us, though, live great lives as best as we are able.

Fayetteville is a great city, full of amenities, sports, churches, activities, eateries, and trails. On a given day, there are dozens of things to do and see if I choose to.

I’ve met some great people. I love walking the streets late at night or early morning. The trails are gorgeous.

Most of all, I like the people here.

It’s human to complain – and our daily lives give us a lot to find grievances.

When something bad happens here, I never find myself faulting Fayetteville. I fault the specific doofuses involved. People will always misbehave. Municipal governments will always confuse us with their choices. They are comprised of individuals, each prone to information overload while attempting the difficult task of finding ways to meet the changing needs and demands of all of us who live here.

Fayetteville is a great city, one with issues, but also one with much to offer.

I love reading the posts on this group, especially when people snark with wit and abandon. Humor helps us diffuse the mess of our daily lives.

If I meet you on the street, I’m going to say “Hi.” Or “DiGiorno,” because it sounds like the Italian word for “Hello.” Being weird fits well here.

I think of Fayetteville as a marriage. We’re willingly here. Sometimes, we love our homes and neighborhoods. Sometimes, we want to sleep on the metaphorical couch and shout at the goofiness we deal with.

I chose a picture of my mundane surroundings. It’s easy to take Kodak moment pictures of the place we live in. But most of my time is spent in my neighborhood. The trail is nearby. And the people that make life interesting surround me.

Thanks, Fayetteville
A New Resident, X

Honk In Morse Code

I went to the grocery store after work. Yes, despite the glamour of my storytelling, I sometimes visit one. I do like some aspects of Walmart+ and delivery but there are times when going inside yields interesting interactions. I had my fill of Walmart yesterday, after having to go there for cheesecakes. Whole Foods dropped the ball in that department. Cheesecake is no laughing matter, as the Great Cheesecake Skirmish of 2016 proves.

Today, I shopped and then realized I left my wallet in the car. That led me to entertain the Salvation Army greeter twice before entering the store.

Before I got there, though, I was turning right. The car in front of me zipped away incredibly fast. I looked – no traffic turning toward me. As I turned, a truck came around through the yellow light going really fast. As expected, a horn blared at me, loud and long, like a mother-in-law complaining about the gravy. I turned into the grocery store parking lot. The truck was turning there, too, but was detained by oncoming traffic. As I exited my car, I noted that the truck was pulling into a nearby spot.

Before I thought about it too much, I approached the older man and said, “Hello, sorry about not seeing you coming from the other direction. If you’d hit me, I’d have done at least $4 damage to your truck with my little car.”

I pointed toward my car as I spoke.

He laughed. “I was a little enthusiastic with the horn! Sorry about that.”

“No need to be sorry. You could do it in Morse code next time, though, to confuse everyone who wasn’t in the Navy or has a ham operator license.” I grinned.

He laughed again. That was two laughs in ten seconds.

“Do you like that car?” He said. “It seems small.”

“Yes, I do like it, and especially the $150 payments. And it is so small that I have to get out just to change my mind.”

That brought out the third laugh from him. “I needed a laugh! This morning was the worst.”

Because I had to go for laugh number four: “The worst? The worst is realizing that it’s your wife’s birthday at 9:02 p.m.”

He did laugh. “Have a good day,” he said as he walked toward the store.

“Honk if you need me,” I quipped as a parting shot. He grinned and shook his head.

To the rest of you, honk if you need me. You’ll know it’s me when you see the weirdest sky blue Spark with a front license plate that reads “Divine” on it.

If you do honk, could you do it in Morse code? Thanks!

Love, X

P.S. I added the chicken for extra protein.
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A Prank Tells Me I’m Being Me Again

Y’all?

If you have a front license plate – or a holder, you might want to check your vehicles!

When I took off the flimsy license plate from the front of my attractive clown car, I had a flash of inspiration. I was going to paint it and decorate it. Of course.

I realized that I should revive an old trick of mine: secretly put NEW plates on other people’s vehicles.

And so, today, I put one of my special creations on someone’s vehicle.

Today’s proudly asked: “AM I CUTE??? CALL XXX-XXX-XXX.”

I’m laughing even as I type this.

I love you all and one of you needs to walk around to the front of your vehicle. Or don’t. Just expect a confusing phone call from a stranger, and/or a potential love interest if they think you are cute.

Love, X

P.S. All of you are cute!

I Paid It Forward

Hey guys, I probably changed a couple of people’s lives tonight. Really.

Recently, someone surprised me with a kindness. It gave me a little breathing room. I can’t think about it without feeling like I owe the universe a big hug.

Because I had already worn myself out exercising, I left the apartment to visit my local inconvenience store. Today was a light day: I had 20,000 steps without taking a “walk.” I don’t get bored, but I do miss the interaction with people sometimes. This evening was one of those times. As I stood near the case of odd corndogs and snacks, a pretty young lady stood at the counter, vainly attempting to get her visa card to work. The clerk was showing her a video of his puppy. It was apparent that both of them were doing the dance of interest, even as the young lady became frustrated. “Try the card again,” the clerk told her. She tried twice more to prepay $10 in gas.

I interrupted them both and said, “Ma’am, I’ll pay for your $10 in gas. In fact, let’s make it $20 if your car holds it. We’ve all been there.” She looked at me in wide-eyed surprise. I pointed at the clerk, “He would want me to.” The clerk smiled a huge smile, realizing that I had shifted my surprise act of generosity to him.

The young lady almost started crying. “That is so nice of you!” I thought she was going to hug me. “Yes, my car will hold $20 of gas. It’s basically on empty.”

I thought of all the times I was poor or needed help. Her wide-eyed features and noticeable relief and gratitude rendered me a bit floorless.

“Then have a great night and pay it forward. It’s really okay.” I smiled at her. She smiled at me, then smiled at the clerk, who watched it unfold. It’s hard to describe how beautiful that smile was, as she reacted to a total stranger giving her such a gesture.

When she exited, the clerk shook my hand and introduced himself. “Ryan,” he said. “That was really cool of you.”

I introduced myself too and then showed him my ID. People often don’t believe my name is X. “Whoa, that’s cool!”

I told him, “You ought to ask her out. She already thinks I paid for her gas because you’re a nice guy. You’re halfway there.”

He smiled, “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to ask her out for quite a while.”

Y’all know me, so you know I couldn’t leave it there.

“Then ask her out,” I said. “It’s obvious she likes you. I’m 54. I’m telling you that you should take 100% of the shots you want when you’re young. The worst that could happen is she’ll say no. The best is that you will have a great story to tell about how you got the nerve to ask her out. Me.”

The clerk said, “That’s some wisdom right there. Thank you.”

We both laughed as I grabbed my bag of Cheetos Puffs and left.

As I started the car, I decided to forget the rules of life and social etiquette. I rolled down my window (yes, my car has actual rollers) and drove over near the white car at the gas pumps. The young lady looked over at me.

“I know this is awkward, but the clerk likes you and has wanted to ask you out for quite a while. He’s a great guy. Have a great night, young lady.”

She smiled so big that I thought her face might shatter. “Thanks! And thank you.”

I drove away, glad that I’d decided to leave the apartment for a dumb snack. And ignored the ridiculous social expectations of perhaps going too far. I can thank Lexapro for making me more “me.” Where life and love are concerned, there is no step too far.

I was glad I’d been able to help someone randomly.

I was glad that someone had helped me to be able to.

And that it was likely that the clerk and the young lady with the defunct visa card might be able to overcome the ridiculous shyness and distance that so often separates people who are interested in one another. There is no reason for such attraction not to find purchase in people’s lives.

Somehow, I think they will.

And I love that I might be at the nexus of their story, however it unfolds.

More than that, though, I would love for them both to take a risk and find out how their mutual interest might blossom.

What a life.

Thank you, universe, and thank you, kind souls who made it possible.

I’ll say a little prayer for love, for kindness, and for humanity.

And for Ryan and the nameless pretty young lady who needed a little bit of help tonight.

Love, X

Max & Max Sr. Or Vice Versa

Another interesting person who I don’t know by name laughs because I call him Max Sr. I did ask him his name but due to the nickname I gave him, I can’t recall what it is now. And that’s okay, as you’ll understand after reading this.

I started seeing him at random times on the trails near work, especially at odd, early hours of the morning. The first few times, we exchanged casual greetings. Each time, I noticed his voice was louder and a bit more friendly. It’s obvious that Max Sr. is a kind, gentle soul who probably doesn’t get to talk to as many people as he once did.

The truth is I wanted to pet his cute 3-year-old dog the first time I saw it. It politely barked at me the first time I passed him and Max Sr. around 3 a.m. one morning. I laughed. I didn’t take it personally.

When I finally got the opportunity to pet the dog, Max Sr. told me that the adorable dog’s name is Max; thus, I brilliantly forgot the owner’s name on purpose and started referring to him as Max Sr. He loves the nickname. Max Sr. thinks of Max as his guard dog and guardian instead of him being Max’s owner. It’s only appropriate, then, that the owner adopt the dog’s name.

I sometimes take short walks, aka Sanity Walks, to get out of the building and see the creek, trees, and people exhausting themselves on the trail. I never step out there without hoping I’ll get to say hello to Max Sr. and to rub Max’s little ears and feel him shiver a little as I pet his back and sides.

I’d be a lot happier if Max and other animals were nearby to pet. A lot of people would. Animals show affection without regard to circumstance. It’s a good lesson we could learn to apply to our lives. The social shield does in some ways protect us. In others, it limits us.

When I see Max Sr. I smile. When I see Max, I smile and get to see immediately that he’s happy with just my presence. What a gift that is!

Maybe you’ll get to pet Max one day, too. He’ll show you the same love after he barks a few times to remind you that he loves his human.

Love, X

s u r p r i z e

I stopped at the local inconvenience store a little bit ago. As I entered, I saw two stoner skateboarders talking to the cashier. The cashier is in his 20s and is a reserved person. He speaks Nepali, English, and probably a couple of other languages too. Because I take an interest in people, I love that he works at the store. People assume his job, reservedness, and accent indicate that he’s not smart.

I LOVE to find people working in regular jobs who are far smarter than me.

The secret? He’s brilliant. He’s finishing his master’s degree in genetics. The two stoners were astonished that he was getting an advanced degree in genetics and started excitedly talking to him about Crispr, asking if he knew anything about it. I laughed and wanted to say, “Uh yeah, he is finishing a master’s in genetics!”

The cashier, in his way, answered their questions quietly and politely.

He might be the CEO of the company which cures cancer one day.

I knew the first time I talked to him that he was hiding a huge dose of brains.

He hides in plain sight, undeterred by how people misjudge him. People like that go far. As they should.

That there are people like him everywhere and in all manner of jobs gives me hope for us all.

Love, X