Harold Freemeyer was the old hermit that used to come in the library for some books and a little chat. He had recently emerged a self-induced thirty-year seclusion brought on by the Vietnam War. His hair was gray, and he wore a long beard, wore army garb, complete with old boots and loaded pack hanging off his back. He was lonely. "Is my book in?" I'd grab it off the shelf. "Oh good, say . . . have you ever seen that movie about the guy who thought he was Jesus?" And off he'd go, talking because finally it felt good to talk.
Life is full of lonely people, walking around searching in confusion, even though we're standing side to side. We reach out, hungry, and draw back, afraid. But life is beautiful, and we are so lucky to be here. The sun shines, and we feel real joy. A child laughs, and everything falls into balance.
Books have always been a companion to me. This whole week I found myself reaching for all my old friends, relishing the words which slowly chiseled me into the person I am today. They're not just paper, or pretty covers, they're people, reaching out; thousands of voices with millions of words. From one time traveling all the way to now, in my hands, comforting me, soothing the restlessness of my soul.
Harold loved his books. But he needed more, so he went where two things existed: words and people—real people. I have to laugh about the night the tornado sirens went off, and he went around handing out hot candy from his pants pockets as we all stood in the back storeroom waiting for it to pass. I love surreal moments like that. Lunacy in lucidity. Loneliness in life.
"Goodnight, Harold." He'd give a wave and hop on his bike, and we knew he'd be back the next day. More life, more stories.
I'm feeling a little Edie Brickell right now, "Shove me into shallow water . . ." But I can't help it, I'm in some sort of weird funk lately. Just ignore this post. The next one will be better.