Thursday morning was not very busy. I didn’t have any appointments scheduled and was working on projects and paperwork for some of my clients. I read through some informational material about the real estate market in Seattle and had to go online to take a test on some new regulations.
Matt was nice and perfectly attractive like he was every day. And even though he was a very good-looking guy, my mind kept drifting off to Jordan in his worn-out sneakers, dirty hoodie, and ripped jeans out on the street with no money and no home. I couldn’t wait for my lunch break and I was already trying to come up with an excuse for Matt in case he was going to ask me to go to lunch with him.
My lunch break came around and I was going to try to get out of the office before Matt would even have a chance to ask me to join him. I slipped into my coat and basically snuck out of the office without anyone knowing.
I hurried to the elevator and took it down. In the lobby I greeted our security guards and then went outside. As I came around the corner of the street where I had previously seen Jordan under the Rite Aid store roof, I was disappointed when I didn’t see him in his spot. He wasn’t there and as my eyes travelled over the immediate area, scanning the sidewalks and the cross walks, I didn’t see him anywhere. It didn’t rain that day but instead it was cold and windy. Leaves from trees were drifting through the streets and with the strong wind dark clouds were rolling across the sky quickly.
I was disappointed that Jordan wasn’t there. I didn’t know what I would have done that day if he would have been there. I didn’t know if I would have bought him a coffee again or if I would have chatted with him, I really didn’t know. I also didn’t understand myself on how many thoughts I spent on him and more and more I doubted my own intelligence. I was an attractive, successful working woman who could date any guy, a woman who even was about to go on a date with another successful and attractive man, but instead my mind was occupied with Jordan, a homeless disabled man who apparently had no money, no job, and probably nothing really. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
I walked into Rite Aid and just looked around and bought a few things but when I came back out there still was no sign of Jordan anywhere.
I went back to the office and Matt caught me as I came out of the elevator, “Shay, I was looking for you. Don’t tell me you did lunch already?”
I smiled at him, “I actually did. I had to get some things at the store today.”
With that I held up the Rite Aid bag to show him proof this time that I had actually been there and bought things.
Matt smiled, “I could have gone with you.”
Matt and I had just recently started going to lunch together and most times other coworkers joined us and we would go the Teriyaki Place, the Black Bear pub, Subway around the corner, sometimes Starbucks, or the Italian Bistro not far from our office. Sometimes we also just stayed in the break room and hung out and talked. I didn’t know if Matt wanted to make this a regular thing now with lunch but I actually wanted to still spend lunch on my own sometimes, especially now.
I smiled at Matt, “Well, I just needed a couple of things and didn’t really think about asking you or anything. I’m going back to work now.”
Matt nodded, “Okay.”
He then tilted his head some, “Are you still up for Saturday, Shay?”
He sounded slightly doubtful and for a few seconds I pondered if this was my opportunity to get out of the date. Looking at him though and his bright blue eyes in a friendly and attractive face, looking dapper in one of his trendy suits, I just couldn’t turn him down.
I smiled, “Yes, of course.”
Matt didn’t seem to believe it all the way, “Are you sure?”
I nodded, “Yes, I’m up for it.”
He must have sensed my mental absence, “Are you okay Shay?”
I now tried to sound more in tune with him, “Yes, I’m fine. Just been a bit busy today I guess.”
“I see. I’ve been busy too.”
He paused and then looked at me intensely, adding, “I’m really looking forward to Saturday, Shay. It will be a good evening for us.”
I smiled still, “It will be. I’m looking forward to it as well.”
“All right, well, I’ll grab a bite to eat and I’ll see you later then?”
“Yes, you will. Have a good lunch.”
With that Matt went on his way and I went to my cubicle.
Again, Jordan and his absence from his spot was on my mind. I wished I could have had a view out my window to the other side of the street where I could actually see the Rite Aid store and maybe even possibly Jordan if he was there. I thought of him all afternoon and literally had to take my mind off by keeping myself extra busy. I did have to type up a few contracts so I actually did have stuff to do.
When it was time to leave that day, a few coworkers debated doing Happy Hour again at the Black Bear and Jazmine, one of the girls I worked with, came to my cubicle shortly before five, “We’re doing Happy Hour. Are you in, Shay?”
I thought for a moment and in a way, I didn’t feel like it at all. I had already planned to check Jordan’s spot again and if he wasn’t there I would go home.
I took a deep breath, “I’m kind of tired today. I don’t feel all the way good. I think I’ll pass for tonight.”
I nodded and tried to look tired, “Yeah, I’m sure.”
Jazmine smiled warmly, “Well, tomorrow is Friday. Last day of the week.”
“I know, I’m glad about that. I’m ready for this week to be over.”
It was kind of a lie because in a way with the week being over my chance of seeing Jordan was very slim.
Jazmine didn’t bug me anymore about the Happy Hour and went on her way.
I was surprised that Matt also didn’t plan on doing Happy Hour. He came by my cubicle as I was just gathering all my stuff.
“I’m not doing Happy Hour. I’ve a Racket ball date with my buddy. I’m meeting him at the gym at six thirty.”
“Oh nice. That sounds fun.”
“Yeah, we try to play at least twice a week. I have to try to stay fit.” He laughed and I joined in trying to be supportive.
I slipped into my coat and together we made our way to the elevators and down with a bunch of people. In the lobby there were greetings and chatter as we all parted ways and headed for our destinations. Matt wished me a good evening and I wished him the same.
As soon as I stood outside my mind travelled to Jordan and I felt the need to see if he was there. I walked toward the Rite Aid store once again and when I turned the corner, I already saw him sitting in his spot hunched over and in the same position as the past two days, his hands out in front of him on his lap.
I stopped in my pace and for a moment I looked at him from a distance again and I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was feeling excitement and happiness, but also confusion at my reaction and obsession with him.
My thoughts started running around on how I would approach him this time or if I would even approach him at all. Slowly I started making my way toward him. I saw he was still wearing the same clothes he wore every time I had seen him, the hoodie that wasn’t keeping him warm and his bare hands were still without gloves.
I saw how a man handed him a few dollar bills and Jordan looked up and apparently thanked him for it. I don’t know why but he now turned his head into my direction and our eyes met and I had no choice than to approach him.
He watched as I walked over and I smiled at him. I spotted a smile on his face and he now sat up taller.
This time he moved his hood out of his face and I saw his eyes under his dark bangs.
He had remembered my name and I felt my heart pound quicker at hearing his voice. He sounded surprised.
We didn’t speak and I tried to think of what to say to him. It was now five thirty and my bus was about to leave at five forty-five. I debated at what to do. The next bus wouldn’t run until six forty-five.
I asked him nervously, “How are you?”His voice wasn’t very loud, “Okay, you?”
I smiled, “I’m off now, so I guess I’m good.”
“You work around here?”
“Yeah, around the corner at the Emerald City Bank.”
Right away I pondered if that was too much information to give to basically a homeless stranger. I thought if I was possibly being way too naïve to be chatting with him in this way. I pondered about a lot of things in my head and I also pondered on that I really needed to get my head straight and leave him alone.
Despite all the pondering though I said, “I missed you during lunch.”
The moment I had said it I felt the statement was wrong. While I had been on lunch, Jordan had most likely been trying to get some money together to buy a lunch somewhere or any kind of food and there I stood telling him how I had missed him during lunch like I was talking to a coworker.
I saw the familiar flicker in his dark eyes, “Were you looking for me?”
I had been looking for him but now I didn’t know if I should actually tell him that. Why was I so stricken with this guy?
I thought about my answer and all that came out was, “Yes, I was.”
For a moment he lowered his eyes and then looked back up at me shyly but didn’t say anything.
I took a deep breath and was trying to get myself to just go on my way or come up with something that I had to go.
I had hoped he would give me some type of explanation on why he hadn’t been there during lunch. I realized quickly how naïve this was of me. Jordan didn’t have one single reason to explain to me his absence from the spot where he usually pan-handled for money.
I pulled my purse tighter and now smiled, “Well, I have to get to my bus. Have a good night then.”
I felt silly and ignorant but he made me nervous.
He nodded and I saw a shy smile on his face, “You too.”
I smiled nervously and was about to walk away. I took four steps and then something just made me turn around to him again.
He was already sitting there with his head hanging over his shaking hands in his lap.
He looked up obviously surprised I was still there and I blurted out, “Can I buy you dinner?”
He now opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out and he just stared at me.
I felt crazy having asked him this but it had just overcome me. I already pictured us at the Teriyaki place chatting happily and carefree. Yes, when it came to Jordan, I was naïve for sure.
Jordan erased that image quickly from my head and said with his eyes on me, “You should go home Shay. Thanks though.”
I felt dumb now and actually realized that it was probably crazy that I had basically asked him to go to dinner with me.
I nodded, “You’re probably right.”
I felt like a little girl that had made a mistake, “I’ll see you around then.”
His eyes were still on me and I lowered my eyes. I felt like I had done something wrong. I swallowed the lump in my throat and turned around to walk away.
Just as I had taken a few steps, I heard Jordan behind me, “Shay.”
I turned around and he was right there in front of me. His hands were still on the push rims of his wheelchair.
He looked up at me, cleared his throat, and started with a trembling voice, “I…I really appreciate your offer…but it’s…I can’t…” He stopped and cleared his throat again.
I felt my hands tremble but I realized Jordan was nervous too and he lowered his eyes again.
He quickly lifted himself off the wheelchair seat for a moment.
I now wrapped my arms around myself and asked with a slight attitude, “Why not?”
Jordan’s eyes flickered nervously and his expression was questioning.
All he said then was, “Because…”
I felt courageous, “Because why?”
Jordan now seemed annoyed.
His eyes stayed on me for another moment and he then put his hands on his push rims and he shook his head, “Isn’t it obvious?”
I didn’t say anything. Yes, from the outside perspective it was obvious that we shouldn’t have anything to do with each other but I felt very different about this. I was interested in Jordan and I would have liked to get to know him.
“You should go home Shay.”
With that he gripped the push rims on his wheelchair tighter, spun the wheelchair around, and he wheeled away from me.
I looked after him and sadness overcame me. His declining my offer to take him to dinner had felt like he was reprimanding me in how I could even have this crazy idea in my head that we would have dinner together. We would never have dinner together because from the outside perspective the worlds we each lived in were not connected in any way. While Jordan was homeless on the street begging for money, I regularly made people owners of properties priced in six or seven-digit numbers.
My knees were weak and I turned around on the spot and went on my way with no particular destination because I had missed my bus and now had to wait around for the next one to leave at six forty-five. It was cold and the wind was blowing leaves through the streets and I decided to just make my way to the Target store and stay warm in there until I had to get to the bus.
Even though I was sad that Jordan had declined my offer, I got the sense that he had not done it out of rudeness but he had done it because he was looking out for me and maybe my feelings. I had caught a tiny glimpse of his character and the apparent integrity he possessed. There was something about him that pulled me in though with full force. His turning down my dinner invitation had actually made me even more interested in him.
Friday came around and I had a productive morning at work. This time around I couldn’t dodge lunch with three coworkers, including Matt.
To my disappointment though when we walked over to the Teriyaki place, I did look for Jordan in his regular spot and he wasn’t there. Inside the restaurant as we found our seats, I made sure I had a view through the window out to the street. My eyes travelled across the street to where I had seen Jordan the first time but he wasn’t there and he wasn’t anywhere around.
Since he wasn’t there during my lunch hour, I expected he would be there in the evening. After I got off and as I had left work I walked toward Jordan’s spot. He still wasn’t there and I scanned the close proximity but he was nowhere.
I realized he hadn’t been there all day. I thought about the evening before when I had asked him for dinner and wondered if that had anything to do with his absence.
Somewhat disappointed I took the bus home. I watched the city go by outside and my eyes scanned the people and a little I was hoping that somewhere amongst them I would spot Jordan. I saw lots of homeless people, either sitting on the sidewalks and begging for money or drifting through the city with their backpacks or even dogs in tow. I saw the random tent camps and I wondered if Jordan lived in a tent or where he spent his nights. I saw the tents every day when going home and even though I was always sad seeing how so many people lived that way, I thought even more about it now because there was now actually one guy I knew and I couldn’t get him out of my head.
When usually I was happy it was Friday, this time I was sad because the chance of seeing Jordan over the weekend was zero to none.
My brother Chad stopped by that evening. At thirty-four Chad was three years older than I. We had always been close and usually met up on the weekends some time or another. We did have mutual friends so we hung out quite often.
Chad lived out in the suburbs in an apartment with his girlfriend Amber. He was an easy going, laid back guy and worked as a counselor at a High School. Amber was a nurse and they were planning on getting married the next year. I had always been able to talk to my brother about anything. He was the kind of person who listened and cared.
Not only did he tend to High School kids but even in our circles of friends or relatives, people always turned to Chad for advice and sometimes just to talk. Chad had always been the perfect older brother. He was the brother who had been there for me all through our life. He had been there when I had cried over break ups, he had been there when I had made my decision on what I wanted to go to school for, and he had been the one I could call in the middle of the night to get picked up from someone’s house because I had been drinking. He had also been the brother I had smoked pot with for the first time and the brother who had taught me how to ski.
Chad liked people and he was someone people enjoyed having around. He always thought the best of everyone and even people who didn’t show any nice streak, he still believed there was something good in every person. I think the reason Chad was so good with High School kids was that in a way he still seemed like a kid himself.
His girlfriend Amber matched with him perfectly. She was kind and sweet and worked as a nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Amber knew about our close relationship and she never had issues when I called Chad for a favor or when we wanted to spend time together. Lots of times she was with us and when I was still dating Justin, we would all four go out often or take trips.
Justin had been the one person Chad didn’t like that much but he had tolerated him. He had always felt that Justin was too self-centered and didn’t care much about other people’s feelings or situations. It was probably true but I didn’t see it that way for a long time. Justin had been a good boyfriend for about three years but I think our relationship was never going to last forever. We were too different in our views and opinions.
I used to think that I could learn a lot from Justin and he would change my view on things in a positive way but sooner than later I realized that Justin was the kind of person who thought he was always right and even when he wasn’t, he never admitted it.
Chad had confided in me that he had been kind of happy when we had broken up, because he had always felt Justin wasn’t right for me and that I deserved a guy who had a lot more heart and kindness.
We had ordered Pizza for dinner and as we sat in my small living room, Chad lounging on the floor in a bean bag and I on the couch, he inquired, “So anything new in the dating world? Did you go online and check out that singles group?”I took a sip from my wine glass, “No, I didn’t. I don’t think I actually need to hang out with other singles in my area for fun and adventure.”
I recited the words in an overly enthusiastic voice and with my fingers I gestured quotation marks into the air, trying to imitate the advertisement that had been running on the radio for a long time about a Seattle singles group.
Chad drank from his wine, “Okay, then what else is new in the dating world?”
I debated on how much to tell him, “Well, I’m going on a date with Matt from work tomorrow.”
Chad shifted in the bean bag, “Matt from work? Tell me more.”
Chad didn’t know Matt and I had not really been telling him about Matt crushing on me, “He’s just a guy from work. He also works in real estate financing, but commercial properties.”
“What kind of guy is he?”
I told him a bit about Matt and Chad seemed to be okay with him, “He sounds like a good guy. I mean you guys at least have money as a common interest then.”
I tilted my head and said in a pretend grouchy tone, “Hey, what do you mean?”
“Well, you both push a lot of money around and so at least you have common ground there.”
Chad didn’t feel money was very important and on occasion he gave me a hard time about working in a field where money was not a question or really a topic at all, but a field where money was just a tool, simply to buy things and in my case properties, apartments, suites, houses, and cottages. Sometimes when he was teasing me, he would say how disappointed he was that his sweet little sister had become such a heartless finance shark. It wasn’t like that at all and he was merely joking.
I actually donated quite a good chunk of my income to various charities and even Seattle Children’s. I didn’t really care about money in that sense either. I had enough of it and I lived a decent life but I didn’t just throw it out the window and instead I shared it with various organizations. Chad knew that and I had never forgotten where I came from.
Chad and I had grown up in a simple but loving home. My parents had married young and everything they possessed they had earned on their own. My grandparents had come to the US as immigrants from Ireland, poor and with no possessions. We had had a very happy childhood but money had definitely not grown on trees in our back yard. My parents had raised us money conscious and had worked endless hours to help us through college. They had always said they wanted us to have better and easier lives than they had ever had. They had succeeded.
Chad and I were doing well and we were able to live independent lives. Our parents now lived in a community for seniors fifty-five years and older in a double wide beautiful mobile home. They both still worked but also travelled a lot and were really looking forward to grandkids one day. The way things were going, Chad most likely had to be the one to fulfill that dream sooner than later.
I nodded, “Yeah, you’re right but I don’t know if I want to actually date Matt. I mean he’s nice and all but he’s almost too perfect.”
"Yeah, he’s just an awesome, attractive, successful guy and I don’t know if I want that all the time. In reality he would never be all the way mine.”
Chad smiled, “Is he kind to children and animals?”
I laughed softly, “I think so. I don’t know. I haven’t exactly done the puppy or baby test on him.”
We both laughed now and Chad added, “Well then, I guess some testing is in order.”
Chad now turned serious, “I mean what do you want Shay? Another know-it-all type like Justin or some loser who doesn’t have it together and once he finds out you got it made, he would only leach off you?”
And there was that image of Jordan in my head, a homeless disabled guy. But Jordan had turned my invitation for dinner down very quickly.
If Chad only knew how I felt in Jordan’s presence he would probably declare me crazy. Or maybe not, because Chad wasn’t selfish and was a kind person to any human being and all animals.
I fought with myself if I should tell him about Jordan and how I had met him.
I stared into my wine glass gently swirling the red wine around.
Lost in thoughts I stated, “Maybe I’ll just stay single.”
Chad now protested, somewhat in a joking manner but also meaning what he said, “Yeah, I ‘m not going to allow that. My sister being a single, crazy cat lady at age forty.”
We laughed and Chad then stated, “Shay, you’re an awesome person and you totally deserve a good guy. Give Matt a chance I guess and if not, move on. There are lots of awesome dudes out there still to be had. They all will go through me for approval but they’re out there.”
I still pondered if I should tell Chad, “What if I want someone totally different?”
Chad now looked at me questioning, “What do you mean, different?”
I shrugged my shoulders and trying to sound less nervous I said, “Maybe a guy who is disabled or something?”
My heart was beating fast and my hands trembled. I had to grip the wine glass tighter but still saw the small waves the wine made in the glass.
Chad’s expression was curious and wrinkles appeared on his forehead, “A guy who is disabled?”
“Yeah, would that be weird?”
He changed his face and looked serious, “No, it wouldn’t be weird. But what exactly are you talking about? Have you met one such guy?”
I tried to sound confident but my voice was trembling, “Not met but I keep seeing this guy around where I work.”
“What kind of disability are we talking about?”
I was glad he didn’t ask where that particular guy worked.
“I’m not sure but he’s in a wheelchair.”
Chad took a deep breath, “Okay, so maybe he’s paralyzed or something. What do you know about this guy? Does he work in your building?”
“No, I see him outside sometimes.”
“So you don’t know this guy, you’ve never spoken to him, and you don’t know where he works?”
“No, I just see him in the area.”
I couldn’t tell Chad that Jordan was basically working under the roof of Rite Aid and begging for money.
Chad tilted his head, “So what is it about him then?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I think he looks good I guess and I like watching him handle his wheelchair and all that.”
I realized that I hadn’t really watched a whole lot of Jordan maneuvering his wheelchair because he was usually stationary in the same spot. I knew I liked seeing him in it. I also realized that I had not seen much of Jordan but his dark eyes and dark stringy bangs and his red, cold, and calloused hands. I had seen him in the same old, worn out clothes and shoes and having said that he looks good was really a kind of thing I had just come up with to give Chad something. I knew Jordan was skinny, I didn’t know much else about the way he looked or maybe would look if he would be just a regular guy with a job and a normal life.
Chad looked at me and I think he sensed somehow that the way I talked about Jordan meant something.
I looked at my brother, “There’s just something about him. I’m not sure.”
Chad nodded, “Okay, well, that’s cool but I guess you should somehow try to get to know him or chat with him or something. Maybe find out where he works and stuff.”
“I have to try to.”
Chad then asked carefully, “So is it because he’s in a wheelchair that you’re interested in him?”
This was my moment to maybe confide in my brother about my attraction to guys in wheelchairs, my dark secret and obsession for all my life.
I didn’t answer right away and Chad then stated carefully, “Shay, it would be okay you know. He’s different than other guys and he’s interesting to you in that way so that’s absolutely understandable. Humans are a curious species. We like to explore and experience different things.”
I felt my heart beat speed up but was nervous to say anything else about this.
Chad sensed it I think, “I’ve a Masters in Psychology, Shay. I’ve learned about a lot of things pertaining to the human mind. If you’re attracted to him because of the wheelchair, it’s all right too. You should still get to know him as the person he is though and then go from there.”
I felt nervous and took a deep breath, “I do want to get to know him, but I feel weird about it all somehow. I’ve never told anyone this.”
Now Chad wriggled himself out of the bean bag on the floor and came over and sat next to me on the couch. He put his arm around me, pulled me to him and I rested my head on his shoulder.
He said softly, “Don’t feel weird about it, Shay. I think it’s cool you’re actually not only going for the Matt’s and the Justin’s in the world but a different type of guy.”
If Chad would have only known how much different Jordan was from the Matt’s and the Justin’s in the world. I still felt safe in my brother’s arms and I knew I could trust him and eventually maybe open up about Jordan.
“Thanks Chad. You’re the best.”
He laughed, “I know I am.”
He pulled me to him and added, “Keep me updated on this guy okay! I want to know what you find out.”
“And you know you can come to me with anything little sis, okay. I mean it and I mean anything.” He emphasized the last part of the sentence.
I felt relieved that I had confided in Chad at least somewhat. I just couldn’t tell him yet that Jordan most likely didn’t have a home or job and most likely nothing at all. Even though with those facts Chad probably would have tried to be understanding, I was sure he would have probably also been a lot more worried about me. For now, I had to keep the details about Jordan to myself.