Throw Away by Kaze Gadway
People ask me if I have a favorite story in our book Everyday Wonder by Kaze Gadway and Priscilla H. Wilson. My favorite story changes but I have a favorite line.
The story called Sliver of Hope takes place in the Indian village of Sevegram when a child follows me. After telling him I do not have money he says “Memsahib, I am only waiting for whatever you throw away.”
That still brings an ache to my throat. So much poverty surrounds me with such low expectations.
When I hand out water to street people in Albuquerque, I feel the same ache. Or when someone whispers to me “Do you have any socks?”
Lately I have had a lot of money problems with my computer and car breaking down. I can’t get excited about having to tighten my belt economically. The outworn and useless stuff I have in my apartment could feed a village.
“I only want whatever you throw away” reverberates through my being. My garbage is useful to those who are hungry.
Even if I dress poor and buy little beyond the basics, I am still the One percent to the developing
nations and most likely to the ones I see on the street.
Compassion grows from such small interactions.
Maybe A Spark
Dull eyes stare
In empty space.
I throw out questions.
Hoping to rope in interest.
My ears stretch wide
To catch muted murmurings
Not even a quiver
From my wilted students.
I look out the window,
Watching a leaf float down.
My heart jumps in gratitude
I smile inside out.
Andy follows my eyes.
“What’s so funny?”
“The tree told me to watch,
So I did,” I said.
No one said “What?”
They looked at the tree
With kind eyes.
Some went inside to see.
At last, the spark of something
Raced across the classroom.
It wasn’t the daily lesson.
It was something more important.
Something pulled them in.
It was not me.
Inside and out draws us.
The only way to learn.
Even if it makes me uncomfortable.
A Few Moments by Kaze
“How did you get your black eye?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Helen responds. “My boyfriend wanted me to go get him some food and I didn’t want to get up. It’s hard to sleep on the street and I was warm. We had a fight.”
“Are you okay? They can help you at the Health Center for the Homeless with your bruises.” I say.
“No, I’m okay but I am afraid. They won’t let us sleep in so many places now. We are not sure where to go anymore,” she says. “But I’m all right.”
This is called minimizing. It is a defense mechanism for those who are abused to make it possible to go on without loss of pride. I repeated some neutral statements, gave her a bottle of water.
I was surprised when she says “Thank you for listening to me. I’m not used to that.”
So once again, the small gesture of taking a few moments to talk to those who are outcasts returns with manifold blessings.
Eyes by Kaze Gadway
The young woman keeps looking around her and then back to my face.
“Are you okay?” I ask, careful to not make any sudden moves.
“I keep seeing them,” she says. She is sitting up with her blankets piled around her along with many other street people on the sidewalk.
“They are there, just waiting to hurt me,” she whispers.
The woman next to her says loudly “Go away eyes, don’t bother us.” She then turns to the woman and says, “See, they are gone. You can go back to sleep.”
With that, the young woman takes a deep breath and lies down.
I don’t ask her if she is taking her meds. So many on the streets complain about becoming a zombie with meds and they don’t like the feeling of being empty.
There are agencies I can talk to but I already know what they are going to say, “There are so many mentally ill on the streets. We can’t force them to get help. There is nothing we can do.”
So I talk to those who can do a little and give her a name and description.
Meanwhile, I am so thankful that someone on the street can give her temporary but immediate relief from the eyes.
We are all dependent upon each other, especially for kindness.
Why? By Kaze Gadway
Some street people made some harsh comments to me which I shrugged off. A young woman asks me: “Why don’t you quit? I wouldn’t keep coming around if people were so mean about it?”
I am taken aback because I know that abuse is her constant companion. “There are mean people everywhere but I like talking with people who talk about basic things and aren’t consumed by greed. I enjoy it here.”
She is taken aback. Then she turns her head and says to empty space. “That’s the first time I’ve heard someone talking nice about us.”
And so it goes.
We all want affirmation that our very existence is valued.
Masks by Kaze Gadway
A man walks by me, looks at the water bottles I am giving out, turns back and asks: “Can I get one of those?”
I say, “Sure, take two. It’s hot.”
He says, “I used to have a job. I could afford these.”
“You don’t look bitter,” I say. “What’s up about getting a job?”
He smiles at my slang and says “I have to find the right mask to put on as well as clean clothes. My theory is that we all wear masks so people don’t take advantage of us. You tell me I don’t look bitter but I’m hiding. I’m very angry. But I’m going to get a job, you’ll see.”
He walks away.
Here speaks a man, living on the street who reflects on his internal feelings. He has a plan somewhat. He is intelligent. There is something wrong with this picture. He is a part of a diverse community with many levels of determination and intelligence.
There is no simple solution to homelessness or to our economy.
I will continue walking the streets with those who want to know that someone cares regardless of masks.