Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It is not at unusual for me to see approximately 5-10 homeless men and women during my 30 minute walk to work. They look to be 50-60 years old, some are white, some are black, some are men, some are women, some are chatty and effusive, others are crotchety and irritable, and a few are just plain crazy. I have no problems admitting that I walk by some without even batting an eye, and then with others I stop and chat and give them whatever money I have in my wallet. I know that doesn't even come close to solving the numerous problems that these individuals have, but its more than they had before. Plus it helps assuage my guilt about the whole situation.

But for the past two weeks, I've seen this woman sleeping across the street from where I live, who does not fit the normal profile. She looks to be around 20-25, she's Hispanic, and she seem to speak limited English. Whenever I run or swim around 5:30 or 6 in the morning, I see her sleeping or just lying there peacefully right next to this new, hastily-built restaurant. But when I return from working out, she's always gone. She must pack up her blankets, put them in her backpack, and then roll out somewhere, because I never see her again until that next morning. One day last week, I saw her nestled up in that same spot with a woman who looked just like her, but I have no clue whether that was her sister or not.

I'll admit that this is the first homeless person that I actually want to do more than just give money in passing. I want to know why she just started sleeping here a couple weeks ago, where she came from, what she does during the day and most importantly, why is sleeping on the street? I know full well that the language will be a barrier, but I'm sure I could find someone to bridge that gap for me. I know I don't want to invite her in my home and help her myself, but I also know that it feels inadequate to basically just step over her and tell myself, yeah that's a shame. I'm sure I'll figure out the right thing to do soon, but until I do, I felt like writing about it was the way to go. Maybe it'll light a fire under my ass. And I can add it to the list of other things fighting for space in my head (wedding, summer camp, basketball, sex, work, smacking people, etc)

I can't rap, but if I could, I'd do so over this beat.

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