“You’re just like me,” he said


On the bus recently, I saw a young woman with a “People Are People” handbag. On the surface, a reasonable sentiment. Part of me, though, is instinctually wary. Does this mean that we’re all alike?

And that is, of course, not accurate. We come with varied experiences in geography, different types of abilities, demographic characteristics, et al. I think we’re necessarily a bit schizophrenic about these things.

On the one hand, we hawk our individuality. On the other, at least some of us embrace our oneness. And, I suspect, both are true.

I was at the grocery store a couple months ago. The young man ringing out my purchase, even before scanning one item or saying hello, proclaimed, “You’re just like me!” And I looked at him, a young black man in his early twenties, and I knew exactly what he meant.

He had vitiligo, an autoimmune disease, on his face and hands. I have vitiligo. I told him I didn’t always have it. He said, “Me too. I didn’t have it when I was younger.” I meant I didn’t have it until I was 50. This common experience meant we’re alike, at least in that particular way. We had that connective tissue.

It’s like when I’m riding my bicycle in town. When I see other riders, they give me that head nod acknowledgment. Naturally, I return the signal.

This pic, BTW, is, unusually for me, a selfie, from about three years ago. This is about the time of the year I start wearing sunscreen religiously, if not earlier. I don’t wait for the summer. Also, I almost always wear hats. After the church play, there were a few unused white hats left over, and I took them all, mostly because I’m always misplacing headwear.