I walked Miss Bee to the train station this morning. The first thing to understand about Miss Bee is that Miss Bee is a man. After a sticky blueberry Danish and large cup of French roast at the Bread Store, the gift of weather required that I walk a while instead of immediately pedaling back home. I passed the new chic building that stretches an entire block called Marrs; its raised teak decking was crowded with conversations and coffee cups. A cool breeze blew me across the street and down the sun-dappled block, just euphoric in the day. I encountered Miss Bee mid way between a newspaper office and a bar. He wore a thick shell necklace and he seemed a little angry. He asked me to stop so he could explain himself. Miss Bee looked to be around fifty with closely cropped gray hair, a handsome face around bad teeth, well dressed. He was carrying a shiny bamboo cane and a black denim coat elbow down – wrist up, in one hand.
Miss Bee told me he was lost and that he needed to get home. He had been asking people to help him but nobody would talk to him. He thought he’d been lost for ten hours. I waited for the request for money, it never came. Miss Bee explained that he had schizophrenia and needed to take his medicine. His apartment was some distance away but he could take the Light Rail if only he could find it. I offered to walk with him to a station and his relief was immediate and he launched into story telling.
Over the next six or seven block walk I learned a lot about Miss Bee including his penchant for making a beeline home, wherever he wanted to go. He spoke eloquently in short sentences that always assumed third person; eventually it was clear he was telling his own story. The story left many gaps but taken as a whole Miss Bee was apparently a lonely man with mental issues, but he knew he was lonely. Miss Bee was gay and his partner of many decades had passed away. He met him many years ago when he was young at another time in his life when he described being lonely, frequenting the bars, being ignored there.
He told me a story of a confused young boy whose mother did not understand him, it was clear that despite all the years between and penetrating the fog of medication and mental illness, her rejection still stung Miss Bee. He described the ache of being alone and his wish for a family, not an actual family, just people who would make a beeline to his home, just someone who would make a beeline to him by telephone.
We shook hands and Miss Bee told me his phone number when I left him at the train station. Miss Bee said he knew where to go from there and thanked me. He told me his phone number but I had nothing to write it down with. I pedaled home alone and my fresh loaf of eight-grain bread sweated inside its plastic bag under the sun. Miss Bee said that the next time I am on the phone I should call him; I worry that he may wait for me to do so. I don’t know that I would call Miss Bee even if I remembered his number, but if I see him downtown I will speak to him again because I know his sadness now and it touched me.
It’s tragic not a soul would speak to Miss Bee long enough to identify what he needed. Such great sadness roaming the streets; such great loss and loneliness all wrapped up into one little man, Miss Bee. I have also been guilty, looking away or skirting past an obviously troubled person. I’m thankful that I didn’t, Miss Bee told great stories on our walk and he added to my enjoyment of the day.