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.