I have friend who doesn't know he is my friend.
He is like no other friend I have. I only see him once a year, for a few minutes. On rare occasions sometimes twice a year. He doesn't know my name, and I do not know his.
He runs the firework stand on the outskirts of town. For a few weeks each summer he pitches his tent and deals with unbearable heat, freezing nights, dust, excruciatingly long hours/days to make sure everyone gets a great deal on fireworks. He blows me away every year with how he runs the business and manages the young staff. There is just something so... magical about him.
He gives off a light that outshines every last fire work he sells. I get a kick out of, for a few moments sharing in this human being's light. Quietly enjoying his presence. It's like seeing a comet that comes by only once a year and lights up the night, and leaves you breathless and feeling connected to something greater.
He first caught my attention when my son was little. It took JUR till he was four to discover his inner pyro, and once he did I couldn't wait to share my love of fireworks with him. We went to the stand on the edge of town and went in. The smell of the place lite up my brain instantly, and I exhaled contently with a loud aaaahhh.... I am a junkie when it comes to things that go boom and light up the night.
As my son wandered around looking at stuff, I became distracted by the man behind the counter teaching the young kids how to run the register. He was a quiet humble teacher with seemingly endless patience.
He came by a few minutes later to make sure all his customers were finding everything. I am so used to being invisible that it shocked me when he looked me in the eyes and then asked about the color of my son's hair. Wait, your talking to me? Are you really taking the time in the middle of all this bustling foot traffic, and hectic business day to speak to me? oh that sealed it. you sir fascinate me to no end!
The next year we returned and truthfully I had forgotten the pervious years encounter. I walked into the tent and see him and my memory stirred and reminded me of the other encounter. I smiled and watched him again. As we paid, he said, "nice to see you again."
What? nah, there is NO way he would remember us. I am not that memorable.
"Look how tall he's getting!" he smiled at my son.
Noooo.....he met us for a nano second a year ago and he remembers us?
I left, even more intrigued by this man.
Each year after that the same story.
A few years back he got booted from his usual selling spot and once we found he had been displaced we tracked him down like professional stalkers. No one gets our fire work money but him.
My son was not with me, just my daughter. No red hair to tip him off. A true test to see if he was just yanking my chain all these years with recognizing us.
We walked into the tent at the new location and he glanced up with a big relieved smile, "Oh I am so glad you found us!!"
We exchanged more words that day then we had in all the years combined.
I also noticed for the first time, how he greeted people as they came in. It was "welcome" to some that he must have not known and a different greeting that clearly indicated those he did recognize.
I realized that this man does remember me, not for the few dollars I spend each year or the various children who accompany me, but for a reason I cannot comprehend.
He is indescribable. Just a quiet person who enriches others with his presence.
I wonder every year where he goes after the firework season is over. What other areas of life get blessed with his presence.
Some how it would remove the magical quality to his life if I were to know anything more about him. My writers mind is captivated by him, much the way a young child delights in the magic of visiting Santa once a year. A pure enjoyment of seeing and being in the light of someone unique.
I have often thought I should at the very least learn his name. Or tell him my name is P and I have enjoyed quietly standing the light of the fireworks with him for all these years.
That I am thankful that in a sea of faces that he swims in each year, he always somehow see's mine. I know that its not a business ploy to keep customers...its a dazzling testimony to the man he is...and I appreciate his gentle attentive care of other human beings.