Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I saw a homeless guy today....

I saw a homeless guy eating out of the traschcan today. It was the first time I've ever seen something so extreme. Of course, I knew things like that happen. You hear about it, see it portrayed in movies, but to actually see it, right in front of my eyes. It brought a new reality to things.

The man was your prototypical homeless guy. I really don't know how else to put it. His whole body, from his skin to his hair, his coat, shirt, pants, shoes, everything, was a dusty tan, like he'd been living in a a dirt storm for the last two years. His hair was long and as ragged as his gait. He mumbled to himself constantly. I was too far away to hear, but I'd be willing to bet I wouldn't have understood it anyway. I was sitting at Starbucks, working overtime on a project for work, when he crab-legged by. At first I only glanced but then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him stop at the trashcan. And then reach in. By this time I was fixed, not really able to believe that this was happening in front of me. He felt around in there for a few seconds, pulled out a discarded coffee, wiped another piece of garbage from the lid, and drank the remains.

Then he crossed the street to the other trashcan, reached in, and took out a sandwich. Two things stuck out to me the most: 1) The lack of hesitation. This man had come to accept something as part of his everyday life that I could never imagine myself doing it. 2) Like a single blooming flower in the middle of a bloody battlefield, the most contrasting image walked past as homeless guy bit into his dinner: a lady with her baby. It made me think how one day he had been a baby in someone's arms as they walked down the street. I wondered what kind of paths have to open to bring a life to such a point. I thought if I could ever be in that position. It was hard to imagine because I knew my friends and family would never let me be without a place to stay. Then I wondered if he had any family or friends. He couldn't, could he? Who could be a true friend of someone they know gets his meals from trashcans?

I packed up my work then and left. Others at the cafe left, too, no doubt sooner than they were originally planning, but I don't think for the same reason. I left because I was disturbed and couldn't focus anymore. Others...they probably just wanted to get away from the smell.

Wedding things are coming together. My mom and dad fly in tomorrow at about 2 pm, Terry (my cousin), her husband and kids at about 4 the next day and then everyone else is driving, so they'll be trickling in, I suppose. The plan was to get everyone (both families) in on time to have a big Thanksgiving dinner, but Mom insisted on arriving earlier to help, even though I told her that Kim's parents were already on it, as per tradition. My mom is the overbearing type, the kind who thinks of her way the best. Oh, she won't blatantly shit on your method of doing things, just she likes to involve herself in any and everything because otherwise she thinks it won't be done right. That and she said she wasn't about to follow any 'muslim' traditions. I tried to tell her that I didn't think the bride's family taking care of the wedding was attached to any religion other than that of the United States of America but, of course, when my mom has her mind made up on something its like trying to convince a dog to piss without lifting its leg.

But we'll deal with that storm when we come to it. The days before the wedding are surprisingly....happy. I didn't expect that and I know most of hat I've been writing is complaints, but we, me and Kim, both have this glow about us. We're about to be married. The nervousness, the worry (whenever I think about that off-white dress...), the foreshadowing of family drama weighing down on us, all of that is overshadowed by how happy we are.

I'm excited about the future. I hope the wedding and everything goes off without a hitch, but I know life doesn't always work out like that. Either way, as long as Kim and I are together, I know, as the song goes....evry lil' thing....gon be all right!

PS: Checked the weather forecast again today. More and more it's looking like Sunday will be clear skies. Rain on Saturday and Monday, but some serious hope for a sunny wedding. Maybe they'll even be a rainbow?

-Tom Friedman

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