Monday, January 24, 2011

16th and Island – Chapter 3 - Somewhere Else at a Mandatory Party (Part 2)

This is a true story about a homeless Pete and I met this Christmas. Some names have been changed.
            “Hey babe – how was your day?” I tried to not look too preoccupied.
“Good, just busy with the Christmas rush,” said Pete yawning.
“Oh – here’s a fried egg sandwich,” I said sighing.
“What’s wrong? You seem upset?” Pete put his arms around me.
I pushed them off, and started pacing. “I’m just so worried about Jeb and Susan. They just can’t stay living in their car. It’s winter, so all the shelters are probably full. All I can think to do is let them stay here until there is an opening somewhere, but I know you will never agree!” My arms were flailing like an Italian.
“Well, I don’t think that letting them stay here is a good idea. We don’t know anything about Susan. She may be on drugs. She may do something to get us evicted, and then we would be homeless.” Pete yawned again.
“But she seems like such a nice lady- she’s clean, Jeb is well-behaved, she says she is a Christian, and she’s even from a small town from North Carolina! And they were robbed, so it’s not their fault they are homeless. She realizes she was too trusting of the guy she came out with. But most importantly, we CAN’T leave that little boy on the street – he doesn’t belong there!” I was pacing faster and with larger arm flailings.
“We don’t know if she is telling the truth or not – just because she is from North Carolina doesn’t make her Aunt Bee. It’s not a good idea.  We can go down there tomorrow to see them and bring them food or something, but we have to talk through it before doing anything rash,” Pete said in an exasperatingly calm, Spock-like tone.
I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck start to rise. “By talking through it, you mean you will tell me all the reasons you are right and I am wrong, until I finally agree with you!” I snapped. “I’m sorry, I’m just so worried about that little boy – you know as well as I do the horrible things that could happen to him on the street. Why don’t you take a nap, and I’ll go for a walk? I don’t want to fight.”
I put my new tennis shoes on and began walking very quickly, not knowing where I was going, but desperately needing to move. I ended up walking a mile down the road to Curves, where my secret sister Marie had given me a month’s free membership. I worked out so hard on the machines that the lady in charge said I was “very strong for a beginner”. While walking back, I took a longer route and prayed. Please God, help Pete and I figure out some sort of compromise. I just can’t give that little boy some food and leave him on the streets – that’s just not acceptable!
When I got back, Pete was on the internet. “I’ve been calling around different homeless shelters, and most of them are full, but there is a possible opening for a family shelter in Vista. The guy will call me tomorrow morning if they have an opening, and we can drive them there tomorrow before I go to work in the afternoon.”
 “Thank you Pete! You are the best. Sorry I got so agitated earlier,” I kissed him on the head. I had forty-five minutes to shower and dress for the banquet at the college. I picked out a satin black and red skirt with a chiffon blouse. I tried to put aside my worries about whether there would be an opening tomorrow and put on my best supportive wife “so happy to see you face.” This is the party I have been looking forward to most this Christmas, after all. It will be great to see Mona again. Mona, who had invited us, was one of the college librarians, and an old friend who had listened to me talk for hours about Pete before we were dating. It would be fun to be her guests as an “old married couple”.  

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