Family Guy is on and I'm thinking about the girl out there on 1st ave, the homeless black chick who has the aged look of people sleeping rough but based on her sing-song voice and style of dress is most probably young, in her early 20s at most, huddled in the half shelter of a Verizon phone booth outside a bodega--the dingy weird one with the rotting cantaloupe and the crooked astroturf covered ramp leading to the front door. She's very pretty, small boned with delicate features and glassy, baby bird eyes. Her knobby shoulders are always hunched high and her hoodie pulled tight. Sometimes I put some money in her paper coffee cup. I wonder about how she got there and on nights like tonite i wonder about how much longer she'll survive, and it gets me to thinking about everything that I say that i want and everything that I seem to be waiting to make happen and the whole situation stops making sense to me.

I'll never forget the bright and brisk morning, the first truly COLD day of the year a month or so ago--i ran into her away from the phone booth, which was strange cuz I'm used to seeing her framed by it--out on the sidewalk she seemed even smaller.

"Hi," I called out to her, already searching in my bag for my wallet.

"Oh," she said, crying out in pain--"please help me! I'm so cooooold!" She held out the word "cold" until it matched the length of the wind blasts that coursed through her tiny trembling frame. Usually she was upbeat, cheery, even, but on that morning the pain and suffering were coming thru on all channels.

"Here you go," I said, and pressed the money into her hands and then kept making my way without breaking stride.

A half way up the block I was suddenly seized with the urge to hand my apartment keys over to her.

Why not? I thought, I'll be at work, what do I need it for?

I imagined an arrangement by which she stayed at my place during on weekdays so that she could keep warm and use the innernet to find a job, using my address as hers. I'd be her hero, and she'd keep my place nice and neat while she pulled herself together. Wouldn't I want someone to do the same for me? Especially if it was another young woman who was offering, someone I had a vibe with--someone who wouldn't be looking for any kind of payback except the kind that comes from helping someone out?

I crossed the street, not slowing down, waiting until I was some distance away before finally looking back, where all I could see were other figures on the sidewalk, the currents of the crowd having quickly closed around the temporary estuary my exchange with her had created. I thought of islands and continents, planets and galaxies, all caught in the same stream that we were in. Everything appeared so clearly: sunlight moved like a camera across the shiny black asphalt, illuminating bank receipts and bottle caps, coffee thermal guards and plastic pull sleeves curled up like dead leaves.

Daft Punk thundered in my ears, the wind blew my hair back--I felt blessed, me--an idiot asshole was being shown the geometry of that which was irreducible. A Lacanian knot, water going down the drain in a tight, sparkling rotation, spinning like my records back home.

All the while i kept to my New Yorker pace. Undecided. Touching the keys in my jacket and feeling the surge of something that perhaps God was asking me to do but being unable either to do it or think of another viable option. I thought of all the things that could go wrong--how she could steal all my stuff or smoke crack and burn the place down. Or spread lice around, which almost seemed worse. Plus it's not only my stuff that's at my place... So instead I walked along, and other thoughts crept in... about work and after work and my writing. I started to retreat towards that space where the characters live--the other world in my head--but I pulled myself back because I didn't know what to think about what had just happened with the girl.

I front like I'm a part of the change that's currently underway--the one that will effect every aspect of our lives. It's the reason why so many of us find ourselves simultaneously blogging and tweeting the same thoughts--it's cuz there's a globally shared vibe radiating thru the air like a tuning fork tone causing us to re-conceptualize en masse the symbolism of money, the slow torture of our jobs, the terrible trappings of monogomy and the so-called "nuclear" family... Like Gandhi and John Lennon I want to practice love and discuss how we treat others, eradicating the out dated notions of nations and foreigners and instead concentrating on the potentiality of our shared humanity.

How can I be the person that i claim to be and not do something to help her?

Inside my head the call to change kept sounding, and I kept trying to come up with answers. I'm slowly moving past the point of trying not to hear it or of sty ming its blast. I don't want to cover-up and remain unconscious. Instead, I continue the pattern of living my life and getting interrupted--being forced to reconcile all that I feel and believe with the way I live. But this too, is a part of it. In order for the question to truly engage us as a question--in order for it to grab us and shake us and drag us towards an answer, it has to appear as inconvenient, just like the "truth" that Al Gore rocked on about. What he really should have called it was "An Inconvenient Question"--because the real truth comes from just such a query--one that takes us towards the heart of our own existence and undoes all the foundations to that which we hold dear. We have to be forced to choose--to take account of the worth of our lives against a greater goal and to allow ourselves to come up short--before we have any hope of realizing the MAGNITUDE of what is at stake, and allow the question itself to take control of our lives, and not the other way around.

Tonite as the wind blows and the TV laughs and the innernets glow like diamond studded highways I will wonder again about where she is and if she's ok--casting my thoughts far out, like gigantic empty nets that tow in dark, unknowable things that lie like half-dead whales on the shore.

All along the question sounding on repeat:

"How do I live a life worth living?"


r/r said...

yeah i've been through the same story except west coast and we knew she was a heavy pipe hitter. stay strong.

Anonymous said...

i feel this. there is an older female here on the streets, i've been noticing her for over 2 years.

she never asks for anything and slinks around this desert like she isn't afraid of anything.

i'm afraid for her.

dm said...

In my opinion, this is one of the best posts you've ever done.On my part, rather than donating old coats and sweaters to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, I give them to the assorted homeless I run across. Quick and easy, just pass them the bag and some change if I have it and keep on walking.

Anonymous said...

look this is the "diet" i told you about you should really enter the site :) bye enter the site

Billy said...

life is crucial and hard..

Radiohumper said...

Yeah, it's about the comfort and the isolation, the remote-connectedness of seperate bloggers posting the same shared thoughts like monks in our electrified cells, like Simpleton says.

Right now, I am getting so irritated that I want to smack the back of the head of every live human begging for my attention in this room. Then I sit here and feel all choked up and connected to Hugh and the Manatees reading posts like this.

You do what you can. You realize it's better to buy a bum a bottle or give a crack bunny the shirt off your back than stroke your feelings over the 'kind of person' you are.

I agree, some of your best writing ever.

TRUE said...

thx guys...i miss my old skule blogger boyz and babez.

and 2 my new spammer friends. please. fuck. off.

d said...

a brilliant post. i hand my restaurant leftovers to the people outside, and the clothes i don't need to my neighbors.

but it's never quite enough.