The intersections of Sixth Street in downtown Austin change from day to day, hour to hour. Different characters, different conversations, different cultures. Somebody’s always talking about something, knowing that somebody will stop and listen.
One recent evening on Austin’s Sixth Street, this young homeless man and I locked eyes. He wordlessly allowed the taking of his photograph and then commented on my T-shirt: forest green, with a design of generic leaves that could be from any tree. At least that’s what I thought it represented. Your shirt has pot leaves, he said, catching me off guard. I looked down at my shirt. Did it? I laughed. Sure had never seen it that way. Things aren’t always what they seem, I guess. This is what I love about Sixth Street. Conversations you don’t see coming.
I met this man on a recent afternoon walk around downtown Austin. He was sitting on a bench on the north side of Fourth Street, across the street from a Capital MetroRail station. I asked him where the train went, and he said, get on and find out. He smiled. He said he couldn’t afford to ride it. We chatted for a while. He said he used to paint with Art From the Streets, a free and open studio in Austin that serves artists in the homeless community. I asked why he quit. He shrugged. I encouraged him to start painting again. We chatted some more. And then I went on my way, turning to wave at this friendly stranger.