Sunday, October 17, 2010
Being back in the mix means I'm back in the mix. It's frayed a bit now, half or at least a third of me is in the jungle but the rest of me is here and here is where I need to do what I can. I've got a new gig, temporarily running a smaller organization trying to bring more housing to those who need it.
So last week I went down into the creeks, the places where folks sleep who can't or don't want to go to a shelter, either because they are full (they are always full) or because they can't handle the rules, or because it's no place like home at all. A friend and I hiked down to a spot where we immediately stood out next to a group of 20 or so folks just packing up for the day. At first there was a lot of staring and then wondering why we weren't showing up like the church folk with socks and coffee. So after a few we start talking, an old timer leading the way. One by one they start to tell us why they aren't in a shelter and why this is all they've got and jiving aside the stories are theirs and ours and different and the same.
Drugs and drink and sick and violence and fear and filth and loneliness and hopelessness and humor and laughter and joy and strength and at the end of it all it's plain old poor. We hear their stories and then we tell them some of ours, that we are working on a project that will put keys in their hands. Not today and not soon enough but keys all the same.
They nod and they listen and invite us to sit. They tell us that sounds real good and how no one has come with lines like this and even if it's a good story why should they believe us and we agree with all of it, we admit the road is long but we have hope, and more than hope we have a plan.
It doesn't have to be like this I tell them and they nod their heads. We wind things up and get up to go when one of the guys reaches out and grabs my hand Don't forget about us he says. And I grab his hand right back and tell him we won't, that it might take us a bit but we'll be coming back. And as we climb the hill my friend and I are quiet, we've both done years in shelters and met thousands of folks and even after all this time and even some time away the problem is right here smacking me in the face. We can do better than this.
We will do better than this.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Part of it is because we haven't been able to make the whole "lets live in the jungle" thing work out as well as we would have liked. I mean, it works, and it doesn't. Namely, we haven't been able to earn a living outside the US.
So he is there and we are here and I'm back in the homelessness mix. Again. It's like Groundhog Day, like I never left, and like I've been gone a long, long time.
So we are building a house in the jungle and earning a living in the States. There's a computation error there somewhere, the addition is more than the subtraction. Or something. People are starting to ask that question, the what the hell are you guys doing question. I'd be asking it too.
And yet still somehow it makes sense. Hope, see. We haven't yet given up on hope, on the fact that we can make it work in a way unclear to us now. That by throwing in the whole towel we'd not have learned what we have. That drumming under a full moon in the jungle is really awesome, or that there are excellent doctors in rural parts of the world, or that survival can actually take up 32% of your day, every single day. Or that bugs aren't really that scary. That the sounds of the jungle can soothe you, that you can do most things you set your mind to. That you can grow a butterfly tree. Or that you can be really, really hot and still actually maintain a pulse.
That the whole experience may stretch you in places you need to grow and still not know the way. That the way is the way, not that sign up ahead.
Now if I can only believe it more than 32% of the time, every time.
Oh, and I miss blogging. Especially now that I'm back on the street.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
We've been back in the jungle for a couple of weeks now. It's like we never left and feels like we've been gone a very long time. The road to our house is a tiny bit better but the one to town is worse. It's either screaming hot or pouring rain and I found a scorpion in my bedroom today.
Reconnecting not only with J but with our friends, kids coming round to play, friends dropping by, my mystic friends bringing a potluck while we sat at the table and had a good long chat. Another came to bring tortillas and catch me up on the village gossip. In between I am lazy and watch the iguanas crawl by.
J's made such progress on our house, it's incredible to see the walls so high. Everyone is taking notice now, the strange house growing in the jungle, born of sweat and blood and time apart.
It's wild here and it's calm. It's rugged and fierce and peaceful and beautiful. We have all kinds of trees on our land, avocado and mango and a butterfly tree. Hundreds of avocados and butterflies but no mangos yet. Maybe next year our neighbors say. Maybe next year.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A month might just be an all time record of blog neglect suckiness. I'm not sure what else to say. I think about writing all the time and still the words don't flow.
I've been working on a project recently, one that's taken me back to my old haunts and given me a chance to catch up with some old friends from the streets. One guy from back in the day, he had a place but then he lost it and here he is again. He tells me that this time he's going hard core, if he has to be without a place to live he's doing it all the way and he's doing it in the streets. And he's writing a book about it too.
So he sits down and pulls out a journal and some pictures and starts to share and I listen and I look and he tells me his son passed away, a son who wasn't even grown. I reach over and grab his hand for a minute, in between all the jokes there's the pain and he looks at me and says make me god for 12 minutes and I'd fix everything. All the broken shit. Done.
Today I'm at the MD, one of those mixed use places where you can get your broken arm fixed get new glasses have a baby when I hear a guy behind where I'm sitting on his phone, he's agitated and he's talking louder, he doesn't know what he's going to do and he can't take it anymore but maybe he should shut up because people will think he's a terrorist. I can't help it, hearing that in a public place, I decide I gotta turn around and look, at the very least I need to see if he's thinking near term and so I look and and I see an average guy of an average age and I see sad. I see sad and I feel sad and I turn back around. Later when I'm leaving I see him again and this time he's lecturing his kid but in a way that sounds like there's all kinds of stuff beneath, stress and worry and fear and he's out of control. I want to reach out somehow but I come up zeros. I walk by.
Then I think of my friend again, I think of him outside and smiling, writing by streetlight and I think about what he said. Make me god for 12 minutes and I'll fix everything. All the broken shit. Done. And I wish it was that easy, we could all take turns and fix our little corner of everything and pass it on.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I've been single parenting for awhile now. J's been in the jungle and we girls in the States, working here to pay for the house building there. It wasn't an easy decision and there are hard days, bad skype connections and a missing so deep. A wondering of what the hell are we doing and an excitement underneath because we are creating this place in the middle of nowhere, from near and from far. We are still committed to this thing.
So it's mostly been me and my girl, made possible in part by the flexibility of friends and women who have become friends. Like my boss, who when it gets late in the day she says oh i know you need to go get your girl and she means it and it's okay. Or the friend who takes my child about once a month, out for lunch and a movie so I can run errands or simply do nothing. Or my mom, who we visit when we can and who will take completely over, leaving me behind in the best possible way.
But mostly it's just been me and my girl, something I thought would be harder than it has been, we have good days and not so good and I occasionally beat myself up for not doing a better job and sometimes I'm a slacker and sometimes she talks back but mostly we do just fine and while we miss the third leg of our little stool I also realize how precious this time is, the ease with which we move through our day, the simple routine of two. The bond we share and now share even more.
On a bad day she might look at me and tell me she thinks I'm being mean because I miss daddy and that's okay but I don't have to take it out on her. Or on a good day she'll call us sisters and hug me tight. Or today, she handed over the contents of her piggy bank so we can buy anti-malaria nets for kids who need them, or yesterday when she told me my outfit looked really, really bad but in a really nice way. And through it all, distracted or not or busy or not I look at her and I watch in wonder, because I can't believe how lucky I am and how much I adore her, how amazing and brave and nimble she is and how we are in this together, laughing and stressing and hugging and teasing and learning and crying our way into what comes next.