When Tyrone has done something wrong, he waits for you to figure it out. Like the “FUCK U” he carved into his middle finger or the fact that he might be drunk right now.
Tyrone has large eyes and when he is sad or realizing something, they look beyond the wall into some dimension you can’t see. This happens when he discusses the various ways his goals have disintegrated before him or when he talks about his foster family–the way they used him for chores or that he is half-white and doesn’t look like them.
Tyrone gets annoyed when you ask him about drinking again. He doesn’t leave your desk. When you hug him it is always the kind where the person squeezes just a little. Even though he fought a group of men who jumped him in Alphabet City, it’s clear he would rather give an embrace than a chokehold. He was a football star in high school but that matters very little when a person cannot afford a haircut or food.
Tyrone is wondering whether or not to hop the turnstile to get back to Jersey. You tell him not to, but as the words rise like balloons you know that when a person has no money, and they need to get somewhere, they’ll do what they have to.
When you see a good piece of a person, you want to see it all the time, but this isn’t really fair or possible.
Tyrone’s spirit comes in shades; today it has the dull luster of an old Christmas ornament. Every time you part, you’re not sure you will see him again, but this is how things go. Whenever he shows up it is a wave from some dark ocean; each time he swims a little further out.
Janelle Greco is a full-time director and teacher at several shelters for homeless and formerly incarcerated men.