It was great to be reunited with my friends in a city that was completely new to me.
The Fringe Festival in downtown Calgary shone with colour under the bright sun, lightening our already ecstatic moods despite the line we were waiting in.
Our pleasant surroundings harmonised together like an artistic ensemble as we anticipated a fantastic performance. Only one thing didn't seem to fit.
The dishevelled man stood out from the crowd with his worn-out clothes and weathered appearance.
There was an obvious tension between him and the event staff which was magnified by the stink-eyed side-glances they gave him.
Knowing that it was none of my business, I tuned out his presence and the conflicting energy between him and the ones in charge.
Before too long, I felt a glare burning upon me as though I was being deeply scrutinized. I looked up to catch the man's gaze as he walked toward me.
He was only a bit older than me, but his jaded eyes told a story of an intense life full of difficult experiences.
A movement behind him caught my eye. The event staff were flinching with paranoia and distrust for the man, but I didn't feel this same fear.
He stopped in front of me and gestured for a handshake.
His rough hands were taped around the knuckles as if he was ready for a fight, but something about his earnest posture and gaze filled me with a calm feeling.
I put my hand out to shake his. He had a firm grip and a strong gaze that pierced deep into my soul. He spoke calmly with an undertone of urgency.
"Think about what you may become."
And I did. I thought about it when the event staff shooed him away as though he had no place in society.
I thought about it throughout the entire performance, and afterwards when he nodded to me on the street and walked away. I thought about it for years after that time, and I still wonder.
Why did he choose me? What is his story? What does he know?
I only know one thing for sure. I hope a stranger remembers me as much as I remember this man.