by D.C. Logan
I love watching him fold his clothes.
It wasn't a sudden revelation. The thought didn't arrive in
my head along with trumpets or chimes. It was just one of
those moments that happen--one of the millions that you
don't expect and more than likely just allow to slip on by.
No, it wasn't anything I'd planned for. I stopped by after
work to pick up his keys and get instructions on how to
handle his mail and messages while he was away. After
taking two wrong turns and driving slowly by his unit to
double check the apartment number on the door, I'd knocked,
and he'd surprised me by leaning out of an upper-story
window and looking down at me. His face looked different
with gravity in front of it--his hair an irregular halo.
"It's unlocked, come on up."
He met me at the top of the stairs. "Now that's a sound I
haven't heard often."
"What? A knock at the door?"
He nodded, waved me over to an empty chair with his jacket
slung over it, and turned back to his packing. There was a
pile of clean laundry in a crumple on the carpeting by his
feet. As I watched, he retrieved an article from the pile,
folded it precisely, and stacked the finished and folded
clothes in a balanced stack to his right. Pick up, shake,
check for a probable previous stain that I couldn't see,
and then fold. It was an intimate and private shared
moment--watching him inspect and care for his clothes. The
pile disappeared as I watched.
We didn't talk, comfortable enough with each other to
simply be in the same room, accepting the simple lack of
need to hold up either end of a conversation. Quiet and
peaceful. I loved seeing him like this, doing simple
everyday tasks, routines, and daily behaviors that bled all
intensity out of him and allowed the man under the daily
veneer of stress and complication to rise to the surface.
A suitcase was retrieved and set on the floor, a token
recognition of my presence?as it would have made more sense
to have packed using his bed as a sorting platform. After a
moment?s reflection, I considered that he might have found
that idea awkward given the limited ground we'd covered.
He packed a small travel case--folding underwear into the
bottom of it over his shoes. Setting shirts and slacks and
a small bathroom kit over the top of that. It didn't look
like it would be enough to carry him through the upcoming
week. He counted off the changes of clothes with his
fingers, naming off the days softly to himself as he did
so. Satisfied with his arithmetic, he closed the case and
snicked the zipper around all three sides before righting
the case and turning to face me.
I ventured a comment. "You pack light."
A nod in agreement before, "You want something to drink?"
I looked around the space he'd chosen to live in, one
cluttered with the paperwork of a busy life and little time
at home to worry about the details and presentation of his
space. I was an insider, I was welcome there, I felt
He walked out to his cab thirty minutes later. During the
time I spent in his house...with him, we?d probably spoken
no more than a dozen sentences to each other.
Do you have any idea how rare it is for me to find someone
who is comfortable with my silences? A man confident enough
within himself to share his quiet with me?
I watched him leave, nodding briefly to me as his cab
pulled away from the curb.
And I fingered his keys in my pocket--still warm from the
grip of his hand.