I loved him. It really was that simple. I never knew his name, or his eye color or his preferred beer on a bad day.
I was a delivery driver and my first stop was south of Market in San Francisco. Five days a week- I would look up just a block over from Hotel Utah and there he would be silhouetted against the day, thirty stories up walking out to the tip of his crane, lunch box in hand.
Rain or shine, 6:04 am, steady feet, blue jeans and we would watch the sunrise. My day started with this dare, if he could keep walking without a safety net, so could I.
I often left my house at 2 am, biked all the way down san pablo in Oakland, dodging johns, heroin, short skirts and vomit. The worst was the begining of the month and end of the month–here, everything depends on a paycheck, in whatever form it comes. I saw things here, ignored things here– that still give me nightmares– that still shame me to silence.
I often didn't sleep, too many people, too many beers, a hopelessness all too familiar. But most days, I would force myself out of bed (in three bedroom apartment with six people) bike the 7 miles, load the truck, ignore the ache in my still brusied and swollen but flat chest, to get to this moment. This sunrise, this man, this death defying promise that he would make it. He introduced me to god and faith and love, and in return, I have simply loved him. Every sunrise, every day, every year– I owe this man my life, he never fell- surely and every day that I was there to witness, he walked, one foot in front of the other, silhouetted against the dawn.
[Mateo Cruz is a poet who recently relocated to Seattle and is obsessed with the lost art of letter writing. He is currently working on a collection of personal narratives and has just completed the second sculpture in a series of ceramic hearts. He often writes poems (in his head) while driving a forklift, is queer as a Monday is long and maple syrup may be one of the great loves of his life.]