Late evening found Rosa and me down at the shopping center. The heat of a summer's sun still emanated from the parking lot and sidewalks long after it had begun to set. Clara, the homeless woman, was down there. She looked chipper and upbeat today -- a spring in her step.
"How are ya'll?" she asked sounding so southern as she walked by.
"Fine," I said as I smiled. Rosa said the same.
"She sure is happy," Rosa told me after she had passed.
"You saw what she had in that bag, didn't you?"
"Yep," I replied. "A forty ounce of beer. She must have gotten some more money today."
I know that feeling all too well. I once lived for the day my disability check would be deposited into my checking account. That little debit card would be burning a hole in my wallet. I would climb aboard my motorcycle and rush to the convenience store for beer.
"I sure could use a beer right now as well, but it would be a bad influence on you," Rosa then told me.
"Yeah, I've had a really rough day and probably couldn't resist joining you," I replied, smiling. "I wish I was like you and could just have a few and quit."
"I love the smell of beer," Rosa said wistfully. "Especially when the can is almost empty. It smells so... hoppy and barley-ish."
I laughed. I don't ever remember smelling my beer. I was too interested in downing as many as I could in as short a time. I never had a good sense of smell, anyway, due to my schizophrenia.
"I'm proud of you," Rosa then said. "I'm proud of you for being a man about it."
Little did she know how I struggled earlier in the day. It was some tough times to say the least.
"Dad told me the same thing on the phone when I called him," I replied.
"Well, it is true," she said. "You don't see it, but you have changed so much these past few months."
I needed to hear that. Sometimes, I still feel like a small child. Scared, hopeless, and lost. It helps to hear someone saying that I am different. That I am more of a man. I felt happy as we drove home with the thought that something good did come out of this day. "This too shall pass," is what I always try to tell myself when I get the doldrums and the crazies. I will sleep well tonight.