Haunted in the wrong way

(Originally posted on my Myspace blog 10/31/07)

So, I'm driving to an interview this morning, at the butt-crack of dawn (since I'm jobless, I like to sleep past the butt-crack of dawn, especially since I'm up all hours of the night, counting stars, sheep, and whatnot), and I'm in a decent mood, considering the whole waking-up-before-the-butt-crack-of-dawn (it was still dark out, for crying out loud!!). Traffic isn't bad, I know where I'm going (I loooove that I know pretty much all of Tarrant county), my daughter went to daycare all dolled up, without tears, in her daddy's truck, and I'm going to be early!!!! This is a feat all in itself since the blessed arrival of Grace into my life. I truly believe my mom is right: kids suck up all of your time. So, getting out of the house early and arriving somewhere early is such a great achievement around here (too bad they don't pay me for this kind of stuff).

So, I'm driving by one of my Pisces areas-I love it and I hate it all at the same time (I'll explain later)-the area where I-35, I-30, 287, and Lancaster all come together in Fort Worth. This is where all of the shelters are, where all of the homeless try to live, if anyone around here doesn't know.

Okay, so I love it because it reminds me how blessed I am, and how fragile our lives really are, and all that other sentimental, feeling crap. I hate it because, well, of all that sentimental, feeling crap. It makes me hurt. It makes me so sad. It pisses me off. It gives me the goose bumps, even on my face! It makes me cringe. I feel like I live in excess when I drive by and see people sleeping under the bridges or lining up outside the shelters.

I f-ing live in excess.

I just want to cry, and fix it (because that's what us social workers were born to do), and at the same time, there is a silent place in my brain that goes 'Whew! Glad that's not ME!' See, I don't have enough self-confidence to think that if I lost it all today, that I could survive on the streets alone, let alone with my bossy toddler. I'd go insane from the bossiness, and I would be a basketcase due to fear.

So, get on with it long-winded girl.

On the grass, next to the highway, behind one of the shelters, is a woman sitting on a blanket. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought that two birds were sitting in front of her blanket, and she was talking to them. I had the briefest thought of 'Oh, she must be Pocohontas!'
Upon closer inspection, I realize that she has her legs straight out in front of her, no shoes, no socks on her feet. She is sitting on her hands. She is rocking. Her arms look uncomfortably twisted. Her hair is wild.

But what gets me the most is her face. It is contorted in pain, agony, and probably some sadness. Her eyes were squeezed shut, and her mouth was moving quickly. I couldn't judge her age, only her agony.

Her face is haunting me today. I can't close my eyes without seeing her. This happened around 8am, and here I am the middle of the afternoon, still thinking about her.

She could have been cold, she could have been praying/meditating, could have been watching traffic drive by. I would believe any of those if it weren't for her face. I think she was probably trying very hard to handle being 'sick' from lack of a drug. It appeared that she needed a fix. I am not judging her, I am not mad at her, for this. I fully believe that being addicted to drugs is an awful situation that 9 out of every 10 people would not choose to stay in. Yes, there is that one person who would much rather stay f-ed up than handle reality. But most don't have full intentions of becoming junkies, or homeless, and truly don't imagine themselves sitting on the side of the highway strung out.

As much as I loathe the crap that strung-out drug addicts do to get another fix, I cannot really blame them. I do believe what I have heard addicts say, time and time again: 'If you knew just how sick it made me feel to be without the drug, you would not deny me the ability to take it again'.

And honestly, aren't we all addicts in some sense? We taste, feel, see something that makes us feel better or feel more clearly than we ever have before, and we spend the rest of our lives chasing after that feeling again, which can never really ever be re-created. Not to put it lightly, but keylime pie will never taste quite as awesome as it did the first time I tried it (in Florida, on vacation, when I was a little kid). Yet I keep eating it. And it keeps putting the pounds on my hips.

Or how about your first love? That racy, exhilarating, electricity that you felt when the person liked you back...when you kissed the first time-that buzz in your ears...when the phone rang....when you held sweaty, nervous hands....it was all so exciting and new, and well, great. Does anyone every really feel that first love feeling again? Of course, juvenile love is different than adult love, or realistic love, or whatever the hell you want to call it, but really-do they match up at all? Yet, most of us (okay, most of us women, usually the sentimental, feeling type of women) search for the return of that feeling in ourselves. I'm not saying adult, mature, married love isn't great. I'm just saying that it is not the same as first love.

Or, how about this: You get the honor of seeing a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The sky is blue, red, pink, orange.....it is so brilliant and extraordinary. But, if you take a picture of it, it just isn't the same. I have a few pictures of awesome sunsets, and looking at them is not the same as actually experiencing it the first time, live, alive. Yet, I still look at them, hoping that some day the pictures will do justice to the real thing.

I gave up a silent prayer for that woman, on the spot. Each time I think of her, I just think 'Please, God'. I don't like to think of all the other drivers who saw her this morning, and probably shook their heads, or didn't even allow their conscience to recognize that their eyes just saw her.

We are all so wrapped up in our lives that we don't like to hear 'sob stories' or see things that make us uncomfortable. We want to protect ourselves from the pain and ugliness of anything that has to do with the homeless, the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the mentally ill.....
We all want to think that her situation is so very far away from us, so far removed from our lives. 'It couldn't happen to me'. 'I'm way smarter than that!' But it is right around the corner, right on Lancaster, and but for the GRACE of GOD, I am not sitting on the blanket with her, in the same boat.


Sarah said...

I totally get what you mean about feeling so thankful that you are not in that situation but at the same time being haunted and saddened that others are. But that's why we do what we do and others don't. Some people need to be haunted/thankful when faced with these situations so others can get help .

Kristie said...

I might cry, that was beautiful. And so very sad.

Kim/2 Kids said...

I have had this experience so many times. Why do we look away from a homeless person, a junkie or someone begging on the street? Why do we not acknowledge their humanity? I try very hard to say hello if I notice a person that everyone is ignoring. Even if they are effed up, it doesn't make them less human. As for my children, we have so many discussions about this and their obligation to the broader community. Someday, I hope more awareness and resources will allow people to get the help they, sometimes, so desperately need. Thanks for writing this post!

just a girl... said...

I have always had a spot for the homeless. I huge spot, i give money every single time. Everyone has a story and everyone deserves to be treated right. I give money because I know i have more. One day when i get a ton of money I will open a homeless shelter its my dream.