When Strangers Caught Me Crying in a Parking Garage on Halloween
I’ve managed depression for the past five years. Some months have been better than others. I recently discovered I’m on the autism spectrum, which explains some difficulties I have. I’ve never had many friends, and I justified this by saying it is a sign of our times. With the significant role social media plays in all of our lives, we’re all disconnected in a connected world.
Yet, I would see groups of people my age out together having fun. If it’s possible for them to have friends, then it’s possible for me, right? I convinced myself that maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. I joined meet-up groups. I tried being friendlier to people. I would go out in public even when I didn’t want to in order to become a more social person. I thought I could force myself into being something I’m not.
One Halloween, I decided I was going to go to the annual Halloween zombie walk downtown. I also decided I would invite people to go with me. I invited two of my coworkers and my sister. My sister was working late so she wouldn’t be able to accompany me. One coworker told me maybe and the other told me yes, but neither of them showed up that night. They both told me no at the last minute.
This wasn’t going to stop me from having a good time. That night, I put on my best zombie makeup and headed downtown. I drove and parked in a parking garage so I knew I wouldn’t be drinking. I arrived after the zombie walk ended, but I still had the chance to enjoy the festival.
Bands were playing in different areas. There were vendors selling snacks, drinks and treats. There were activities to do and games to play. People were wearing costumes and hanging out on the lawn area. I walked through the festival. I watched a special effects demonstration. I talked to people at vendor booths. I tried to be friendly and have a good time.
As I walked through the festival, I saw a young man in zombie makeup holding a sign that said “Free Hugs.” I really wanted to take him up on his offer, for no reason other than the human contact. I watched him for a moment and ultimately decided against it. I was too nervous to hug a stranger. He walked away, and I began feeling incredibly lonely. After I had made my way through the entire festival, I realized there was nothing left for me to do, and I decided to go home. I walked back to the parking garage alone.
I hiked the steps to the fourth floor where I was parked, but before I went to my car, I sat on the wall and looked over the city I love so dearly. Why didn’t it love me back? I sat there on the wall, looking down at the party below, and I began to cry.
Why is it so difficult for me to be happy? Why can’t I make friends? Am I such an unpleasant person that I can’t convince anyone to spend a few minutes with me? The parking garage was silent. I was alone. I began to openly weep. I cried unabashedly for a few minutes. Finally, I calmed down and took a deep breath.
Something told me to look up. The top floors of the parking garage overlooked the uncovered area below where I sat. I turned and looked at the top floor of the garage. I immediately noticed two people were watching me. I instantly felt vulnerable and insecure.
I wondered if they saw me crying. Of course, they did. They would have had to see me. They were looking directly at me, silently watching me. But why were they watching? Did they see a lonely, young woman sitting on the edge of a tall parking structure and assume the worst? Did they think I was going to jump? Would they have tried to stop me?
I quickly dried my tears and returned to my car without saying a word to either of them. Maybe they weren’t watching me. Maybe they were doing the same thing I was doing but from a higher vantage point. Maybe they were just admiring the city lights on a dark, October night. Either way, I felt like these strangers were looking out for me. I felt like they cared about me. Most importantly, I didn’t feel so lonely.
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