21 April 2011

Bora Bora

... at the end of our meeting, I asked him:
"Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

He blinked very slowly, looked up, and then looked straight into my eyes.
"Yes. I want to go to Bora Bora."

"Close your eyes again," I told him.

I have an abnormally big and bright computer monitor. I'm an expert at Google Image searching.

I moved the monitor as close to his bowed, furrowed brow as the cord allowed, hoping I wasn't about to cause some irreparable retina damage. I filled the screen with the aquamarine of Bora Bora.


As he opened his eyes, his entire face lifted. His lips parted to show some very well-kept dentures, and he let out a slow, enduring, overwhelming laugh--the laugh of a man who had lived for so long without permanence, so many days without a companion, a lifetime without a vacation.

In .13 seconds, a search engine found the joy that was buried deep within this old man, and it filled the room.

20 April 2011

Holy Roller / Twisted Sister

Paula told me that she needs a payee because of her compulsive compassion.

"I'm addicted to random acts of kindness... with money."

She says that when people ask her for money, she just can't turn them down. It's too much fun to give away.

"I can give away $2,000... just like that." (She snaps her fingers, her weathered and worn fingers. It's less of a snap, more like a brush.)

Paula lives in the neighborhood, modestly. Very modestly.

"God doesn't give me enough gifts to share."

Her joy is so complete, and so completely immaterialistic.

"A $50 tip for a cab ride! You should have seen his face!"

But Paula, make sure you take care of yourself.

"What do you call a nun who falls down the stairs?"

"A... holy roller?"

"A twisted sister!"

She pulls out an envelope of $20's and counts them. And re-counts them.

"Paula, you should keep your money in your wallet."

"But I like to play with it!"


"Can you do me a favor? Call me a cab."
"Uh... seeya later, Cab."
"No, I'm serious!"


I can't help but think that Paula will probably be okay, by her own standards. She will always feel like she is doing okay. It's a strange thought, to think that she receives money from the government to help meet her basic needs, and she give so much of it away. I wonder, if anyone knew, if they would complain.

18 April 2011

The Winds : The Times : The Pace : Nickles, Dimes and Pennies


Paul never took a shower because he never got another change of clothes. I have not seen him for months.

Gary still smokes crack, but has learned not to overdose on our property (lest he be suspended from our services again).

I am sure Rita's child has been born, and I pray that they are safe. May 12th was the last time I saw her... but not the last time I thought about her.

Rob doesn't pay child support for his son anymore, which has caused his greif to switch from his debt to his son's death.

BobbyJoel's police report successfully secured him a spot in the subsidized apartments he applied to. I hear a rumor that he has a really cool toaster oven that can cook frozen pizzas.

Jarrone and Christina are still together in a "agree to disagree" sort of way, but neither of them have their State ID's anymore.

Gerald came back to my office this week with another gift: a daffodil he uprooted from a nearby highway median. He handed it to me with a shaking hand and said "I'm sorry." Sorry because after almost 2 years of sobriety, he was drunk.

Paulie still drinks as much as he pleases, but has stopped looking for work and stopped pretending to go to school. Never stops smiling.

In this neighborhood, things change, and then sometimes, they change back. But they're always moving, and three years of employment in one place shows you much more than a month, or a year. I've seen the full run of a relationships, what happens after a stint in jail (and what doesn't), sobriety and relapse, and if I've learned anything, it's that change is a constant state, not a single event, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't count, or it's not effective. It's like the turn of a screw--you may look like you're at the same point as you were a year ago, but you're just a little bit deeper; a little bit closer to your destination.
Relapse is part of recovery; sometimes you have to step backward to maintain your balance.