I’d talked with him before but only in passing. Today, I learned his name.
The same homeless characters tend to show up in the same spots here in bham [there’s the guy with the cart living under the bridge downtown (ha) by Pepper Place; the skinny and spectacled fellow with a keyboard singing Jesus songs from his post across from the furniture store; and the quiet old man who stands around Railroad Park and watches trains — my favorite]. I visited Linn Park a few weeks ago and passed out a whole box of cookies (leftovers from an internship event), but I don’t frequent the area so I didn’t recognize any of the folks there.
Anyways, back to today: I remembered I had snacks in my backpack and I wanted to give them to the Railroad Park guy, so I walked over to where he was standing, said hi, and sat down on a nearby bench, commenting on how pretty it was outside.
We ended up chatting for a while and I learned that Richard has been homeless five times now. One of those times was when he was younger and it was the only time out of the five that his homelessness was voluntary; he talked about how he had been working a shit job when he decided to go out west with his friend, a guy his age. I asked which state he liked most, traveling out that way, but he just reiterated that he went west. I didn’t press him but told him that I also want to go west someday.
When I pulled the snacks out of my backpack and asked if he liked nuts, his mood changed. He said yes, that he did, but mentioned that he already had food. I felt bad and told myself that the next time I visited with him, I wouldn’t give him anything — that we’d just talk and watch trains together for a while.
Sometimes, when you try to help someone, you end up hurting their feelings — and in situations like this, depending on the depth of the damage, it can be best to simply pass time with them in the future (without trying to make things better) or leave them alone entirely. In the case of Richard, we can certainly stay friends.
When I got home that evening, a friend’s boyfriend came by to take a look at my broken washer situation (see poem).
The house has other issues right now, too — roof’s started to leak, kitchen faucet is running wild, and the upstairs bathroom is acting weird. Just going to leave it at weird. And all of this right after I made the gutsy move of dropping down to part-time (for the first time in my adult life) and draining my savings account so I can take my final six classes and graduate this fall w/o student loans. Whew…
Anyways, as I walked my friend and her guy through the house, I noticed things I usually don’t: how much dog hair was covering the floor; how the door frames were jacked up and jagged-looking from anxious dogs biting at them; how the ceilings were stained from previous water damage and how dark some of the rooms were, curtains pulled, air still.
I was embarrassed. Depression makes you tired, and when you’re tired, it’s just easier to leave things as they are, gross and broken, and go be elsewhere — busying yourself at faraway cafes instead of doing the harder work of cleaning and repairing and maintaining things at home (aka giving a damn).
After my friends left, I walked up and down the stairs and through the hallways until I’d found the broom. I thought to myself that I wanted less things in the house – less things to tend to and worry over – so I began moving things out to the garage: chairs, books, clothes. I opened windows and doors and put on some music — took a shower when I was done for the day and felt better about being there instead of elsewhere.
Charlie dropped some of the stuff off at a donation center on his off day and I’m going to put some more things out there this weekend.
The house has been cleaner this week and I’m feeling well. I’ve had several interesting dreams and made multiple bowls of spaghetti.
One of the most interesting dreams: I was sitting at a table, writing, when a friend sitting across from me looked at me and said: “You aren’t wanting to fall in love. You’re wanting yourself to change.” I knew he was right. And I’m always changing.
In a way, you could say that I’m dedicated to changing because I like to learn and I like to grow and it’s important to me to continually become a better human being. I know (very well) that teaming up with someone doesn’t fix anything inherently wrong with you and I’d rather be living, like a river, than stagnant like a lake (it’s also easier to change when you aren’t worried about someone close to you worrying about you changing).
Got a gig at The Nick on Tuesday (thanks to my musician friend Esther) and a guy friend is playing lead guitar over my rhythm. We’ve known each other for about a year now, catching dinner here and there, and we just practiced playing together (for the first time) last weekend.
I’d been single for nearly two months when he kissed me on Sunday.
I’ve always liked him but the timing was never right.
Welllllllll we were playing music in his basement on Sunday (he’s seriously GOOD on the guitar — damn) and then cuddling on the couch upstairs, showing each other bands and artists the other hadn’t heard before, when he suddenly said I looked pretty and leaned in close.
On Tuesday evening, I stepped down into the creek in his backyard while he played guitar on the grass. We talked a little, him on the grass and me in the water, and then when he helped me climb up out of the creek, he pulled me close and kissed me again. He said he respected me too much to try for anything more and I appreciated that more than he’d imagine.
He’s sweet and gentle with a voice I like listening to and a dorky, genuine smile. Come late August, I’ll hardly have time to sleep or shower, but for now, I’m enjoying moments with him.
We’re cooking something tonight and running through some more songs, preparing for that gig, and I’m telling myself that it’s okay to be kissed by someone – someone with pretty brown eyes, skilled hands (I’m talking about the GUITAR, weirdos), a very good heart and a sharp mind – without knowing what it means exactly: what it’s called, where it’s going IF it’s going anywhere at all, if it’s going to “last” (so relative)…
Although I’ve already asked him what his favorite meals are and what he’s allergic to and I’d now like to know his favorite season and his most vivid memories — the worst day he’s ever had and the best sound he’s ever heard…
I’m not trying to fall in love, I swear! But I’m also not trying to not fall in love now. Know what I mean?
If I was still waiting for something, I would try to not fall in love… but I’m not waiting anymore. Instead, I’m trying to do what Charlie’s always talking about: spend less time reflecting and predicting and more time being right here… keeping the home clean, open to wind and storms and sunshine, and the music playing.
Ahhhhhh who cares. Trying to stay cool though I’ve never been cool about anything,