Following is a post from the VoiceColors blog that will introduce you to Billy Megargel.
Billy is at an art studio where he paints most Mondays. It is a spacious, cluttered warehouse filled with visual creations and accompanied by sonorous and dissonant sounds. It is Beatnik and 2011 wrapped up in one. A current time warp.
This Monday Billy arrives and starts to prep for his studio art session. He places his communication device and his art schedule book on the 1960’s fashionable scratchy metal secretary desk. Rummaging through the plastic milk carton, he finds the radio and places it in an exact spot on the desktop. He lifts the hefty CD player (500 CD’s later-a lifetime collection from a now almost defunct Borders) out of a lime green case and sets it neatly by the soon to be obsolete Sony player. Billy is always precise. His painter apron accented by vibrant smears of paint hangs on a hook in an adjacent interior closet-room. Without a cue, Billy puts the ankle length blue denim apron on, wraps the belt around his waist, ties a bow and then double knots it until there is no remaining string to use.
And then Billy picks up his communication device and navigates to the Dictionary, selects the category “people” and then presses the “friends” subcategory. Immediately, he presses “more friends” which reveals a page with many empty cells. I watched with keen interest but frankly I had no idea what he was about to do. Billy walks up to each person who happened to be sharing the space with him that day and pointed to the empty cell on his friends page.
Standing, he bent slightly over so that each person could view what he pointed to. Focused, direct, and earnest, Billy acknowledged everyone in the room. I gasped as I realized what was amiss. I knew what Billy wanted to say.
But, the pivotal question “Who are you?” was not on his device. Billy, however, was not deterred. Each individual he approached, he pointed to the empty cell as if to say your name belongs and put his hand out for a handshake which was returned in kind. Billy’s simple gesture of recognizing others tied them together in this painter’s niche. Despite the fact that his language system was compromised, Billy took the time and effort to affirm each person’s presence in his life at that moment. I felt humbled by his act of kindness.
I went home that day and made sure that Billy would always have the ability to ask ‘WHO ARE YOU?” The question is programmed in multiple places on his communication device. Billy already knew that the question was urgent and applied it in his life. What I learned that day was that I too needed to ask this question. Like Billy, I too yearn to be in the reception line with others.
More archived blog posts that inspired Eve to write Learning to Kiss can be found here.