After four nights of barely any sleep and three days of staying indoors, I decided to get some sunlight and fresh air. I drove to a park which I know well and set myself up at a wooden table. I lay out some pens, a sketch book and a bottle of water and tried to feel inspired by the nature all around me.
I was enjoying the warmth of the sun on my back when I noticed a man walking down a nearby path towards the park. He had something on his head which he kept adjusting as he walked and I realised it was a bright pink bob-styled wig, the type you would buy at a costume shop or dollar store.
“This is when I die.”, I thought. It felt like such a predictable movie scene. He came closer and I tried not to stare while also keeping an eye on him. I was unusually calm as images of being murdered came into my mind. He stopped and waved at me from about twenty metres away and I waved back hoping he wouldn’t come any closer. He did. He walked right up to me, right into my radius of personal comfort and he said, “Do you like my wig?”
I realised then that he had some sort of disability or impairment and I answered him with a friendly voice, “Yes, it’s very nice.”
He was a big man who towered over me and he reached into his pocket, pulled something out and showed it to me. “I don’t want to wear this anymore!”, he sounded distressed as he crumpled up the hairnet in his hand. I assume it came with the wig. “Do you want it?”, he asked me.
“No, thank you.” I said. He started to say something else but I couldn’t understand him so I said, “Okay, well bye!” and he said goodbye and walked away.
For a while I was certain that he would come back and want to talk to me again but he wandered off down another path and for as long as I was in the park, he never returned. I thought about how judgmental I had been and how his disability made him seem both safe and scary. He may well have been capable of doing something unpredictable but no more than any other person and I guess that’s why he seemed safe. He wore his difference obviously and with pride while others keep theirs hidden deep inside.