Humans of Florida

 

Humans of Florida

A narrative poem by Shumona Haque

 

- I would sit across the beings

So I could sense their feelings

Blossom and brighten,

Shrivel and soften,

Contort and tighten,

Calm and darken.

You see, researcher, I had to conduct and carry out a study on Developmental Psychology

All of my professor’s “experimenters”, us students, had to choose and interview at least four human beings and ask them questions to learn about how they have developed thus far.

Then, we write up on our findings. That’s it. We don’t need to continue observing and learning about them for another two weeks or anything.

We could leave them, say nothing.

…But I didn’t just talk to four people. I talked to fifteen.

And I didn’t just say, “Okay, thank you for your cooperation” and never spoke to them again. I kept speaking to them on a frequent basis.

Especially to one seemingly nameless boy in my school.

 

- No one talked to him.

No wanted to know the man named Tim.

Even I knew back when we were freshmen

That based on all the tension.

He was awkward,

Both physically and socially.

He had no friends.

He walked funny, alone

And sadly, he had no place to go.

Because no wanted to get to know

This man named Tim

…Except for me, two years later.

 

- Like the last fourteen,

I would sit across this being

So I could sense his feelings

Blossom and brighten,

Shrivel and soften,

Contort and tighten,

Calm and darken.

It was January 2016

or something.

We sat in our dark, noisy, and dusty English class,

I ,with my notebook and recorder,

He, with nothing but his brain to record this interview, this memory.

The first memory of our friendship.

Like the last subjects, I asked him questions like

“How do you feel about your life so far”,

“Do you feel content with your life”,

And “What were you like as a child?”

I don’t remember ever seeing so many emotions play on his face.

That’s because I have never had an actual conversation with him, let alone a conversation like this.

Also, I don’t remember ever feeling so curious about him,

Such a throbbing desire to learn more about him

Like the last fourteen.

He told me his darkest desires, his social anxiety, his insecurities,

For he revealed that he never had anyone to really talk to

Because no one cared

Until now.

 

- Having these interviews with the fifteen changed me.

It made me begin to actually care for people who did not share my blood.

Now, I find that this experience had made me a better listener, and thus better communicator, of people.

If I hadn’t done the Humans of Florida Project, dear researcher, I wouldn’t be as compassionate as I am today.

And people like Tim wouldn’t have a friend.

 

- So, I encourage you to take charge as an experimenter and not just as a researcher.

Don’t just read accounts like these to quietly convey your sympathy.

Be the experimenter who takes initiative to learn about others by engaging with them, not just observing them.

This poem is about: 
My community

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