“Well, you certainly don’t beat around the bush, do you, Kip?” I asked in a non-rhetorical fashion before launching into a discussion about my older lover with a total stranger—at night, in downtown Seattle. I should have been scared out of my wits, but instead, I sat there like an asshole ignoring Marco’s attempts to reach me, smoking the cigarettes he hated, and talking with a total stranger.
Kip, as it turned out, was a homeless man from West Virginia who backpacked his way to Seattle carrying a bag full of his work tools. He figured if he could make it to Seattle with his tools, he could find work and make a new life here—all he needed were the clothes on his back and his tools. It was a novel concept that I pondered for days after meeting Kip.
After about an hour of discussion, Kip asked to walk me back to the hotel, out of sheer concern. He was worried I might get mugged or hurt. I also didn’t know where the hell I was, and didn’t want to rely on Marco yet again to help me after he shredded every fiber of my being earlier that day. “He may be your sugar daddy, but honey, if he was any kind of real man, he would wise up and accept you for who you are,” Kip said to me as we walked back to the hotel. “Here we are Miss Vivian! You take care of yourself now and don’t settle for less than you deserve, honey.”
And here I was, standing at the door of the hotel, preparing to go back to Marco, but somehow wondering if Kip’s backpacking lifestyle had more value to it than the money, cars, or homes that Marco could offer. I stood still for too long; Marco came barging out after stepping off the elevator. He quickly hugged me and asked if I was alright, then began yelling at me in the middle of the street. He was genuinely concerned, and I would have been too, but as I stood there zoning out while he yelled at me for ignoring him, all I could think about was the day. His words kept ringing through my mind, like me being his ”project,” and “not good enough,” and then Kip’s words, like “independent” and “the clothes on my back and tools in my bag.”
Marco took my hand to lead me inside the hotel and up to our room. I didn’t engage in any arguments with him, which frustrated him even more. I spoke to him only when he was pleasant and ignore him when he was being rude or abusive because he was upset.
The next morning, we left early for the airport. The flight home was quiet and fast. As I stared out the window from my first class seat, I wondered if Kip was OK. What he did for me that evening was above and beyond; he showed true humble kindness to a total stranger, even though he had nothing to offer or gain from it.