I spoke with DJ again today (more on this later). My wife had noticed him sitting in the park behind our church and asked me if I wanted to take him a blanket.
When I walked through the rod-iron gate, blanket in hand, I noticed that there was not one man in the park, but two. They were sitting on benches about 300 feet from one another, each apparently oblivious of the other's presence.
I decided to take a gamble and walk toward the man I had never seen before. He certainly looked homeless, at least initially. He had his hood up and was slouched against the bench with his chin on his chest. A couple of couch cushions were set up beside him as a make-shift bed. Now that I think about it, the cushions looked kind of new, not like the worn-to-threads dirty kind that homeless people generally find lying outside apartment complexes. He was wearing a dark jacket that looked a little worse for wear. What really caught me off guard, though, was the reason he didn't hear me when I approached him.
I tried to get his attention a couple of times without any luck, and succeeded only when I physically stood in front of him and thrust the blanket in his direction. That's when I realized why he was slumped over in such an oddly familiar pose. He was swiveling his thumb back and forth around the white circle of his iPod, blissfully unaware of the rest of Los Angeles.
He looked at me with a quizzical expression and popped out one of the earphones. "I'm sorry? Can I help you?" he asked. When he understood that I was only offering a clean blanket he politely declined and said that he would be fine. It was clear that I had disrupted the serenity of his self-imposed isolation. I decided to move on.