Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ugly City, Ugly Street

This morning I saw something ugly. I was standing in front of the Walgreens on North Michigan Avenue waiting for it to open when this homeless man (equipped with dirty white t-shirt, rumpled pants, unlaced shoes, and packed plastic bags) walked up to the garbage can a few feet away. At that moment, I and the man who was waiting with me both turned our heads so quickly like we were two puppets on the same string. At that moment, we were both a part of the harsh reality of this man’s life—a life of walking down streets digging in garbage cans for food.

Minutes before Mr. Homeless entered our worlds, I watched the man [waiting with me] impatiently check his watch because it was 6:59 a.m. and the store opened at 7:00 a.m. Minutes after Mr. Homeless entered our worlds, I remembered how—as the man was impatiently checking the time, I was thinking about shopping for shoes after work. We were both caught up in our own worlds of important things that mattered to us, but why did we look away? Why couldn’t we face this ugly thing that was in front of us so clearly?

I guess in some way Mr. Homeless could sense our uneasiness because instead of digging for food in the garbage, he dug in one of the bags for a skinny white women’s belt to put on. Even as a stranger to our worlds, Mr. Homeless was sensitive to our inability to experience a moment in his shoes without second-guessing the trivial things that made us impatient and/or happy a few minutes earlier. He wanted us to enjoy our happy-wednesday without having to reflect on the goodness of God’s tender mercies of not being so low that we needed the dirty leftovers of others to live. Sometimes I say we, but I’m also guilty of turning my head to ugly things in life like homelessness. In a way, I know it exists but I don’t want it to touch my world because I can’t change it. When I walk to work some mornings and see others like Mr. Homeless tucked in the hidden corners of a city that’s still asleep, I wish whatever situation that got them to slumbering in Grant Park could be reversed. I wish these things wouldn’t be, but I can’t change their lives. The only thing I see to do is just be a little more grateful than I was yesterday about what and who I have in my life.

At 7:03 a.m. the doors of Walgreens were opened. The small crowd that had gathered during our time of wait filed in the doors like shuffling schoolchildren on a bus. This made us happy and able to get on with the day. This made us push the ugly thing to the miscellaneous part of our brain. As I entered the doors I looked back for Mr. Homeless, but he had moved along to the next garbage can down the street where he dug for something good to eat. Something that was left there for him by somebody like me who doesn’t think twice about where the next meal will come.

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Rom. 12:9

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dreaming of Words to Say If You Were Here

The other night something happened to me. The other night I lied awake in my bed thinking about my father. Ever since his birthday, which was September 4th, I’ve been dreaming, thinking, and wanting to talk to him. And when I hear friends talk about their dads or go to weddings and see friends being walked down aisles by their dads, it makes me wonder what kind of relationship I would have with my father if he were still alive.

Sometimes I consider my ways and seldom moods swings and wonder would he even like me? Would we talk on the phone everyday? Would we still go clothing shopping in his rushed-kind-of-way? Would we be the way I sometimes pictures us being in hazy dreams running down some unknown street to Long John Silver’s, running so we’re out of breath but laughing so hard because we’re happy. Would we hug the way we did in this dream just before entering the restaurant through glass doors? Even as I write these questions it seems like a piece of me is missing because I will never know these answers. The other night I wondered did my father know how much I loved him, even though sometimes I didn’t know how to show it—could he feel it? Those twelve years ago in April when he closed his eyes in death did he get a glimpse of my face and think to himself, I know she loves me?

The other night I cried when I couldn’t remember the last thing my father said to me or what he looked like the last time I saw him and he said goodbye. These things may seem so insignificant to some people, but the other night I needed to know these things. I said I would only keep these feelings between Jesus and me, but since I’m still dealing the guilt of not being there for my father, for not spending more weekends at his apartment, for not saying “I love you” loud enough so he can hear it—I’ll share this because it might help someone else (just maybe).

It’s silly to say that sometimes I pray to dream of you so I can do and say the things I should of when you were hear. Things like: I’m sorry for being embarrassed by you—I was young and dumb and didn’t know the clock on your life was ticking away. I was happy that day you showed up to my pre-school with a pair of blue, red, and yellow 1,2,3 skates. I was sad that day on report card pick up and you had a seizure (I was six and didn’t want you to die). I was scared the day you sat me on the lap of a white Santa Claus at the mall. I was happy every time you said ‘yes’ to my Air Jordan sneakers requests. I was scared that night you were drunk and I ran down the street and away from you. I was foolish the Sunday I skipped church because I knew you would be there, and I was lost the day I sat on the pew hearing you be eulogized.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Love Be Making Me Blue

This is me trying to be a girl in love. This is me wanting some attention from a man who’s not afraid to give it to me. When I say it—I mean all of it without one drop left in the bottom of his heart’s cup. In a way I think I deserve it. In a way, I think love has done me wrong for so long and for why? I’ve done nothing wrong to cupid or his rosy cheeks. I’m not the one who cursed the day the color red was made, and to be honest I practically worship this color and all it stands for.

This is me being too flaky and perhaps too picky. Is it my fault that I haven’t met a guy yet that can hold my attention longer than two blinks? (Well, there is this guy who I sometimes spy with my brown little eyes from time to time. And grant it, he may look better going than coming but there’s still something there that keeps me watching). Anyway, is it my fault that I want men to worship me? Is it my fault that men are sometimes intimidated by me? Is it my fault that these men don’t have the balls to approach me?

This is me trying to figure something out. Why is it that homeless-lower Wacker drive type guys be trying to woo me? (“Seriously,” I want to sometimes say, “you live on the street.” Is it something written on my face that says, “Ooh you dirty, dirty man, I want your love?” Is it the way I switch my hips that makes men old enough to be my dead grand papa want me? I guess I’ll never understand why these men are offended when I walk away. I guess I’ll never understand why love be making me blue. I guess I won’t figure it out until my next lunch break when I’m eating pasta and needing something to do.