Last week, a car driving down Malcolm X Blvd. in front of CitySquare's Opportunity Center struck and injured a good friend of mine named "Blue," a community character about whom I've written here in the past.
I was across town when this terrible accident occurred.
And, today, I'm not at all sure how "Blue" is doing.
As soon as I heard of his terrible, horrifying misfortune, I started toward my car to go see him.
Then, the sickening reality hit me. I couldn't find my friend because I didn't know his name. I only knew "Blue," the name he had shared with me over two years ago. I didn't know his real and complete name.
I thought I knew him, but I didn't.
Pondering the injury and my inability to find my friend leads me to several conclusions/observations. I'll share a couple here.
"Blue" didn't allow himself to be known by a name because somewhere in his heart he's decided that he is no longer here. "Blue" believes he is lost, never to really be found again. He may have convinced himself that he doesn't want to be discovered, found out or identified. So, he has no need of a last name or a real first name for that matter.
What must that kind of disconnection do to a person's soul? To his self-understanding?
The street rips everything away from a person who calls it home, even a given name.
But then, I have to face the reality that my "friendship" has not been complete or totally authentic.
As hard as I've tried, we still don't have the reciprocal connection that I've convinced myself we enjoyed.
I just would have.
But I've fooled myself to keep from realizing that I'm not going deep enough with people out of real respect and revolutionary, ordinary love.
Maybe "Blue" kept his name from me because that is the only thing he had left to hold close and tight. Maybe he gives it away only to people he really trusted. I'm not sure.
I've thought this week of the television classic, Cheers. Remember that show? Set in a bar, it was entertainment wrapped around the lived experience of genuine community, something the U.S. and my town needs lots more of at a time when it seems to be slipping away from us. No doubt, this social phenomenon that concerns so many of us fueled the success of the show.
You'll remember that at Cheers, "everybody knows your name."
And that's important.
I learned that this week, big time.
I hope I get another chance to be with "Blue."
My first question will be "What's your name, man, what's your name!"