I study the elderly, the drunk, the crestfallen as they sit on park benches, as they dance without pants on in Tompkins Square Park.
I look at them and wonder where they went wrong. I wonder at one point did their friends stop caring. I want to stare at them, search their clothing (or lack thereof) for a piece of information, for a pin or paper that says “In this year, my parents threw their hands in the air and said that they had had enough.” I understand that it is not easy to care for the mentally ill. I understand it is difficult to give your love fully and completely to an alcoholic. But it’s hard to give yourself to anyone, really, because you know that they have the power to twist that love into something else, something that can only hurt.
Was he happy once, this drunk dancing with no pants on? Did he love someone and only lose it after it was lost? Could I maybe lose it one day, too? The powers of human transformation haunt me.
I look at the man, his pants slid halfway down to his knees. I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, whether to exploit him with my iPhone camera or to just leave well enough alone. As we watch, I take one shot and briskly walk away, my friends trailing me quietly. “You don’t see that much in Boston,” they say. I don’t respond. I turn back once more as I walk through crowd and head to the bar, where I can forget him, for just a little while.