Thursday, August 16, 2007

Finding the Fountain of Life

I noticed that homeless woman once again today. Hair amiss. Fingernails like tiger's claws. Shirt torn in the back exposing her bra strap. She looked like some wild child out of Kipling's Jungle Book. I gathered up the courage to do something small for her. I bought a small insulated, collapsible cooler at the dollar store and bought some ice cold bottled water. It would fit easily within her backpack.

"Here," I said. "A gift from the heavens."

She smiled broadly as she looked in the cooler to find the cold water.

"No beer?" she asked.

I laughed.

"If I still drank, I would buy us both a beer and we would get a buzz."

The bringing of the cooler completely broke the proverbial ice.

"Clara," she said, shaking my hand. "My name is Clara."

"Nice to meet you, Clara," I replied, noticing the weathered lines on her face. She is about in her thirties, but looked older than that.

"What do you want?"

"Excuse me?"

"Most men want something from a woman when they do something like that," Clara said. "You want me to suck your dick behind the store?"

This caught me completely by surprise and I stammered upon my words.

"A thank you and a possible friendship is all I want."

She eyed me suspiciously. I am forgetting the unwritten laws of the streets after being homed for so long. It is tit for tat at this level of existence. Her dog eat dog mentality brought back a wave of memories of my homeless days filled with drunken bliss. I would have done anything for a beer and a pack of cigarettes. And I got taken advantage of several times after being homed by some of George's homeless cohorts as well. HIV/AIDS Guy comes to mind.

I walked over to my car parked next to the convenience store and she followed me. Rosa was sitting inside the running car as I sat down to write down my phone number to hand to Clara.

"Call me if things get too tough," I told her through my open window as I handed her my number.

Rosa watched on intently as I left to drive off.

"That was stupid," Rosa said of me giving her my number.

"Why?" I asked.

"Cause she is going to call us at three AM in the morning, drunk, and wanting you to rescue her."

"Sweetheart, you forget where you have been," I said. "You were once in her shoes."

"Yeah, that's true," Rosa said with a smirk. "That is why I know she is going to call your ass tonight, drunk as hell."

It takes one to know one as the old saying goes and Rosa is probably right. I will jump that hurdle when the time arrives. I was just glad I could do something to help another human being in a situation I once found myself in. Rosa is just the more reasoned angel of my existence and was being bluntly honest as she usually is. Where fools rush in was the old quote that came to mind of my actions today.


Portia said...

i am just learning how to be proud of my compassion instead of feeling stupid for helping someone. those around me chide me the same way, warning that i will get hurt or taken advantage of, and that i can't handle someone else's problems as well as my own. it's true, i can't. i don't have much to give, but i have more than so many others, i will give what i can.
the funny thing is, i imagine that this is a quality rosa loves about you...she just doesn't want to see you hurt.

Trying2BMe said...

I think it's great you've extended a hand to this woman. I advise not allowing her to use your good nature, but the good things we do towards others often find their way back to us.

Much love and respect for the person you are.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Not a fool at all Andrew, just incredibly sweet and caring! It's good to remember where we come from, that path brought us to where we are, and we all encountered one or two caring folks along the way that helped to restore our faith in humanity.

Glenda J said...

I think I would quip back at Rosa--I'm up already so don't sweat the small stuff. Glad to know that she is so protective of you. My best to you, Rosa and Maggie.

Roz said...

I only just found your blog today - clicked the "next blog" thing on mine. It's very interesting and I have linked it.
I sometimes want to do things like you did for Clara, but something stops me, maybe I'll think of you next time...


C. R. Morris said...

Who else will give her water and ask nothing in return? And what if you hadn't? I don't care what anyone thinks, she needed that..both the kindness and the water.

Ellie said...

You are so kind. Not many people would do what you did. Most would just overlook them, like they were nothing. But you took to that woman. Keep it up!

Lavaunda said...

I have been following your blog for quite a while. I have not commented before. I just want to encourage you. You have helped me to understand someone who is close to me that chooses to live homeless off and on. I could not understand how he could do some of the things he has done and now I even wonder now if he might not have a mental illness. Keep blogging Andrew. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for my english, i'm italien. I think you did something wonderful for this woman. Many years ago, i was on her shoes, and somebody, who has a very big heart, helped me. I'll never forget it. He's my angel . Sonia

GoldentoSilverVal said...

Your kindness is inspiring but I know where Rosa is coming from...the "no good deed goes unpunished" type of thing. Please listen to your heart, but also please listen to Rosa. She has been there, just like you, but she also sees a different perspective. Its so sad how addictions can ruin a person's life and deeply hurt those who love that person. If you really want to help "Clara", get her set up in a women's shelter. It takes courage to change and Clara may just prefer to crawl into a bottle, no matter how much you want to help. Her remark about preferring beer as a gift concerns me. Bless you for what you are trying to do and bless Rosa for trying to protect you. Rosa needs you, but YOU also need her to see things as they really are and help keep you from getting hurt and taken advantage of.

Ilene said...

Will Clara become a friend? Will she change? These are things we will find out as we journey with you.

PS. Loved the word 'homed'

Summer said...

I love the name Clara. It is the name of a childhood friend. But, her mother changed it when she got older. Weird.

You did good today. And yes, she'll probably call at 3 a.m. Ha!

Anonymous said...

You did a fine deed today when you gave Clara water. You followed your heart. You do reap what you sow, so you can expect a good deed to come your way as well. Don't be surprised if Rosa is right--you get a call at 3:00 a.m. :-)

Barb said...

When the phone rings, it is an angel who just got her wings...thanks to you!

you inspire many!


ASAHI said...

In my usual habit of blogsurfng I came across ur Blog. Its really nice and I liked ur style of writing. Hope I get more time to read thru ur lines.
Nice Coming Across You...while passing thru this Long, Vast, Unpredictable, Immense, Unexplainable Series of Experiences, That we call - LIFE :-)

darla said...

Ditto... what goldentosilverval says! I know you want to help, but try to find another way besides giving your home ph#. Listen to Rosa.... she knows of what she speaks.

Cmate said...

Cool scene. nice!

Moonroot said...

Andrew, your compassion and humanity is both moving and inspiring. You're a hero.