Sunday, April 15, 2012
As you can see, I haven't posted much at all lately. I told my friend Jessie the other night I haven't had anything to really say.
On Saturday, I joined the Six:Eight Community Church in a cleanup at the Mill Run stream. This was part of Project Clean Stream, a citywide stream cleanup event organized by Blue Water Baltimore.
When we headed out to the area around the Woodberry Light Rail station, I joked with my friend Heather, who recruited me, "This should be a breeze since we already cleaned up the trash here last October." But alas, (did I just say 'alas'?), there was plenty of fresh trash to be picked up. The bulk is cigarette butts, and carelessly discarded food wrappers (especially candy), fast food cups, bottles, cans, cigarette foil (smokers know what I'm talking about), Light Rail passes and then stuff only found in Bizarro world like a police record for a 33-year-old man wanted on four counts of murder, and something Oriole fans will appreciate in the center of this bag:
We pick up all of this trash because it's a) ugly, b) unnecessary and c) eventually ends up in the Mill Run stream, into the Jones Falls, onto the Chesapeake Bay.
But yesterday was not a day of judgment. It was a community event requiring only three hours of my time, and it felt good. I had plenty of excuses in the docket of Mike's busy life on why I didn't need to schlep from Ellicott City to Baltimore on a beautiful Saturday morning, but I squelched them all.
What I didn't expect, yet should not have been surprised by, was what we found under the bridge pictured at the top. Loose change. Foam stuffing. A blanket. Someone's home.
There were piles of ashes from paper, clothing and trash obviously burned for warmth. Even in spring, it's cold at night. And there were books, stacked neatly in a mini library. They're fuel alright, but not for an evening fire. And a cable box: ironic, hopeful, perhaps just a possession that feels valuable.
This hit me much harder than I expected. I see homeless people every day. Sometimes I make eye contact, sometimes I drop some change, often I walk on like they're not even there.
At first, I was really angry. I kept thinking about the tirades about gas prices, the economy, who should be in office, who shouldn't be in office, taxes, and how Facebook has become the soapbox for so many...so many opinionated, uninformed, and often nasty people. NONE of us are sleeping here, living like this. And ANY of us, or members of our own family, could be.
Addiction, mental illness, depression - all of us are somehow affected by these personally, some so more deeply than others.
Then I got really sad. A fucking human being lives under this bridge. Suffering. Living an existence I cannot imagine. How dare I complain about $4 a gallon to get my pampered ass to and from my work and home every day.
Then I got real. This tragic situation is not unique. It is everywhere. And guess what? It isn't about me.
I can't fix it today, but I can write about it. Remind myself, and my friends on Facebook, and the wonderful people who take the time to read this post, that the homeless are human. They should not be ignored, forgotten or judged.
I am incredibly thankful. For the wonderful people in my life, the opportunities showered upon me every single day. The blessings I truly enjoy and have the perspective to appreciate. And, hey, after all these months, I having something to say.
I'm not going to turn this blog into a pulpit, or abandon the humor. Humor is truth and a medicine for all.
The writer in me was reawakened. I'm humbled and grateful for a place to be able to breathe, think, eat, sleep, share and love.
Your comments are always welcome. Especially your perspective.