People love pretty much the same things best.
A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best,
but after what he alone loves at all.
Annie Dillard

What do I alone love at all?

The moment in my loneliness when someone reaches out and calls me friend. I doubt this is a love unique to me. But I have spent much of my life actively moving to a spot on the street where I may be the 'reacher' in this scenario rather than the 'reached.' I look for those people wandering at a slower pace, the ones turning and turning within a crowd.

A girl sobs in a toilet stall in a public bathroom at a concert. I find her. I shoo everyone else away and sit on the dirty bathroom floor and reach my hand under the partition where she can grab it and hold on. It's my way of giving back this bit of beauty that is an unexpected ally. In one's darkest hour, longing for a hero.

It's happened to me, too.

A tumor wrapped itself around my mother's pituitary gland, a giant squid on the prow of her brain. It dragged her deep into the murky black, and I could not follow. A friend showed up for me as I flailed, attempting to move heaven and earth with my tired, human hands. She pulled me away from the phone, into bed. She turned on The Philadelphia Story and stroked my forehead until I slept. She wrapped herself around me. Moss on a stone. She held me until I allowed myself to cry.

That moment, in the arms of someone I'd never before considered stronger, is what I love. The way I could move through the doomed shadows to a place of hope--all because, in my weary invisibility, a friend saw me anyway and came to my aid.

This is why I will continue to kiss the damp foreheads of strangers crying on buses. I will look into their eyes, ravaged and bloodshot due to a woe that I cannot know the details of. And I will say, You are beautiful, worthy, strong. And I will walk away.

Perhaps I cannot yet tell which I myself love better--to be reached or to be the one reaching. So universal is the loneliness that comes and renders us low. One day, I know, it will be my turn again. I will be the one sitting behind a tent cabin with half a joint in one hand and the fresh strawberry of a bruise swelling under my eyebrow, and too much shame to explain how I came to hold either. And in that moment I will wish for an apparition to come--a girl with warm hands and too many freckles over her bent nose to maintain any pretense of beauty. Like a ship in the night she will come to me and take my baggage and share my load. She will receive my troubles as I choose to show them to her--half truths or total silence. And that won't matter to either of us. We will only care about parting with a shared hope, too.