Thursday, November 15, 2012

gifts going around

Our union is like this: You feel cold so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet. - Daniel Ladinsky/Hafiz 

1. My house is getting those winter drafts. I was standing on my cold kitchen floor yesterday in socks thinking "Man, I need some slippers."

2. At around 8pm an old homeless man showed up on my front porch. I've seen him walking around the neighborhood - I think actually once he said to me "Your smile is pure sunshine." But he's definitely mentally ill. He rambled about the base of his leg almost freezing last night before he could get into a gas station reopening at 5am; I mentioned the Nashville homeless shelter where he could find warmth. He said he needed $9 to get his stuff out of storage; Nate and I noticed he had beers in a bag at his feet. He said he had no pride left and he would take "Anything. Anything you got." I said "I can give you food."

I went inside and Nate said "You cannot come here after dark, any time, that I am not here. She is a single mom. We will help you, but you need to respect boundaries." Which is true.

I grabbed some quarters from my change teacup and some food we won't eat. Nate gave them to him.

3. I went to class. I got home at 9:30. At the base of my steps I found a red pair of worn J. Crew slippers with bows on the top. They were my style; I turned them over, and they were my size (8). I think I might even remember having circled them in the Christmas catalog last year or the year before.

I took them inside and said "He left these as a gift. He put them off to the side of the light in the yard because he was showing that he was respecting the boundary." Nate asked if they smelled like urine. I said no. He said they were probably stolen off of someone else's porch; I said that person would forgive him. He said the man probably used the change to go buy more beer; I said I'd rather err on the side of trusting his story and giving him some quarters than to give nothing at all.

I washed the slippers today and they're drying in sunlight. I almost threw them away, but you know what? A pair of new slippers would have looked just as worn after a few months of wear, too. I think they were a gift from God. (I thought about a Daniel Ladinsky poem, that quote up there - not me covering the homeless man, the homeless man covering me.)