a sheriff a baby and some pants

I first saw them at the beginning of the week as they wheeled the stroller into the enormous room chilled to the bone. I hear him before I can see him but I'd recognize that sound anywhere. The sound of the newly born.

The parents are ragged and distrustful, but the journey to here no matter how many wrong turns doesn't mean anything to a newborn. We bring them in and start to get them settled when I see the hospital bracelet still on her wrist. How old is he, I ask. 4 days, she says. M is with me and she's antsy, we've been here awhile now and she's finished her various tasks. After a while I tell her it's time for us to go and the mom hears me. She looks up at the baby's father She's not staying. We are the only family staying here. Her eyes dart around the room and she sees what I see, a hundred or so folks from the street milling around and then there's her.

M immediately blurts out we can stay too mommy it'll be fun and in that moment I feel like the worst person ever, I would never want her to stay there all night and yet somehow I've rationalized that it's okay for others, a hypocritical line I've somehow learned how to cross.

Two nights later I return alone, the little family is there again and now the baby has spent half of his life in the streets. It's a complicated situation, one that requires more creativity than usual and so we assembled a team and after about three minutes assessing the situation one of them looks at me with what looks like tears in his eyes. I'm making it my personal goal to have them in a better place by Friday he says. And sometimes the stars align because he does exactly that, even beating his own deadline by a good 24 hours.

Across town I run into another little family, this time a mom and her daughter who's exactly the same age as M. The mom has 1 day left to stall the sheriff from locking her out of her apartment, the clock is ticking and she's desperate and it's not lost on me how young she looks herself. The little girl is sullen, I lean down and ask her if she's hungry and she nods her head. She's having a bad day, her mama says. We've been on the bus so long she had an accident and we don't have a change of clothes. Now I see it, she's not sullen but embarrassed and she will not stand up no matter what. Want me to try and find you some pants I ask and she nods.

While I'm off hunting down little kid pants the mom gets the help she needs and the eviction has been forestalled. She'll have her place for another month and if she follows a few other steps maybe she won't be in this place again next month. We even find some pants. It's moments like this that make the most sense.

Too much cold and too much work has left me sick just as I was supposed to get on a plane. Now I'm home instead of going away and I'm not happy about it but given the week itself it still feels like we've come out ahead and sometimes that's just the way things go.

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