The Art of Saying Hello

Bertha and Evelyn don’t play it cool.

They wear their enthusiasm on the outside. Like it’s as normal as wearing a hat or wind pants, which they also wear.

I see them in their hats and wind pants coming up the hill in that time of morning when the sunlight is really starting to just pour over the sidewalk.

Evelyn comes first, Bertha a few steps behind. They are in their mid-sixties, slightly stooped, African-American, and, Evelyn told me the morning I first said hello, sisters.

“Hey-Hey Caitie! Hey-Hey Caitie!” the sisters cheer when they see me. “How are you, Caitie? How ARE you?” And it always comes with this gush of big waves and broad smiles, like they’re celebrating me. Sometimes Bertha sticks her hand out for me to high-five.

We don’t know each other besides these morning hellos. I don’t know where they come up the hill from or where they go up the hill to. All I know is that after just 10 seconds with them, I feel like a million bucks, like they pulled down the sun, handed it to me and said, “Here. This. It’s all for you.”

And after I see Bertha and Evelyn, I always say hello more and say it better. Not like it’s some obligation. But like I mean it. Because I’ve been given this piece of sunlight that’s best enjoyed shared.

So, if there is an art to saying hello, Bertha and Evelyn are teaching it to me. Teaching me that all you need is a sidewalk to celebrate someone on. And that all it takes is 10 seconds to give someone a piece of the sun.

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