I have a neighbor who’s slightly crazy. He lives alone in a large house near the beach. His children live with his first wife on the east coast and he rarely sees them. His second wife left him for her personal trainer. He “made a bundle in the market” and he no longer works. He’s an avid big wave surfer and travels all over the world. He likes to tell you that the waves are his comrades; the bigger the wave, the better the relationship. He says the waves, his comrades, have almost killed him twice. He says surfing is a spiritual thing. He says that surfers who ride small waves are pu**ies.
He says he has a black belt in karate, that his hands are registered as lethal weapons and that he enjoys going to conferences where he gets to break cinderblocks with his elbows. He says he avoids bars because if he got into a fight he would be arrested. He says Bruce Lee was the real thing.
He says he’s been to dinner at the White House. He says everyone was an asshole.
He says he doesn’t need people.
He told me all this in the first five minutes, the very first time I ran into him walking the dogs. I was, thank God, able to break away in the sixth minute.
And yet now when I run into him, and I do, I worry about him.
He never quite looks at you and when he does, he has a wild look in his eye. You realize he’s talking out of desperation, telling you the same thing over and over again. Maybe some of it’s even true.
I don’t even know his name.
But he makes me count my blessings that I have work I like to do. That I have a wife and children to annoy me and bother me and wish to do things with me. That I have idiot dogs that jump on the bed and lick my face and wake me up in the middle of the night. That I have a brother who I talk to on a weekly basis and we give each other major shit and then laugh. That I have friends who go back both six weeks and thirty-five years.
That even though I don’t know what I did to deserve it, I am loved.