It's not his real name. I never asked him what his real name was.
He reminded me of Ray Romano. At first glance, he looked like a regular college kid- walking into a coffee shop, messenger bag across his chest, ready to settle into the couch and veg out (or study; whichever). I was alone, which was a pleasant change to my typical day in and out. Being married, with 3 kids- sitting alone on a coffee shop couch with a book is quite rare. I was basking in my solitude, going back and forth from people watching to book reading. Simple Pleasures.
Raymond sat across from me. I didn't think it was odd until I looked around and noticed that there were empty couches and chairs through out the shop. "Uh. Oh." I thought to myself. "This guy's about to try to pick me up!"
Married. 3 kids. College kid tries to pick you up- who can lie and say it's not flattering? Not me! I was flattered. He asked what book I was reading, and he seemed surprised when my response exposed the fact that I was married (apparently, he didn't notice my Big O' Rock). "I'm reading a book on how to be nice to my husband." I said kind of jokingly, but then added, "Really. It's about the inner-lives of men, and how to comprehend them."
"So? You're married." He responds as he looks down at my ring. I get the idea that Raymond may not be who I initially sized him up to be. He is squinting his eyes, as though he is uncomfortable. As though he's embarrassed, and unsure of himself, and awfully self-conscience. Thinking about it now, I get sad all over again for him.
We conversate a bit more, I am smiling and trying to be annoyingly friendly- and open, and nice, and hide any amount of discomfort I am feeling. It didn't take long for him to lower his head and start to read his book. At this point, I'm feeling sadness in the pit of my stomach. I had looked over Raymond a bit, and noticed cut marks on each side of his arm. From shoulder to mid bicep, he had cut himself. I force myself NOT to show sympathy in my eyes. I keep smiling, but I wanted to cry. I still do.
I wanted to continue talking to him, part of me wanting to know more about who he is, and why he did what he did; I threw out to him the same line he had offered me; "So? What are you reading?" And it worked!! Raymond opened up a little bit. Guess what he was reading?!?! A book about BODY LANGUAGE. How interesting is that? It seemed as though he had a desire to understand people. He wanted to know how to relate and how to interact among his peers. He noted that it was a "hobby" of his. To learn "that sort of thing".
I immediately do a play by play of what body language I could have been "talking" during our conversation and hoped beyond hope that I didn't tell him anything that would make him sad. I'm so concerned that he is sad. I'm sad at the thought of him being sad. It's just- so- sad.
The chit-chat didn't last long though, and he packed up his bag and walked away, with out even saying goodbye. Or, "nice talking to you."
I lost sleep that night- thinking about Raymond. This young guy, apparently disheartened with life- who cut himself, and squinted his eyes when he smiled; he talked with out confidence, or certainty. It seemed that Raymond was flinching at every word spoken, and at every word spoken to him. Why was he flinching? What was he afraid of?
I don't know.
I have a compassion that I cannot explain for those that are hurting in the way that Raymond seemed to be hurting. I want to help. I want to understand the root of their hurt. I want to figure it out. I want to help.
If I'm losing sleep over Raymond- apparently, Raymond needs somebody to care about him. He needs an intercession, and God chose me to pray for him. He's not just "some-guy at a coffee shop".
8 months ago