One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Word Play

Mornings at our house start with specific words. My first word is five, followed by thirty, as the answer to Luke’s first words, “What time is it?” Geddy’s are usually the following, in this exact order, over the course of his first half hour awake: Mommy, milk ("mohk"), Daddy, cracker. He knows what he wants and he knows who will give him what he wants.

Lately, because Geddy seems to be saying a new word or ten every day, his first word of the day might be dark ("dahck"), or fan ("fant" or "f"), or bright ("bight")if I decide to turn on a light while I change his diaper. He might say moon (which he has decided to start calling "moont") if he can see the moon out our window. This morning, the first word from his lips was diaper. The diaper wasn't much wet but Geddy knows that the diaper is always changed or at least checked before he gets any milk. His last word upstairs before we consent to starting the day and leaving the bedroom rotates between go and down. After that for the rest of the morning we can expect to hear cracker about fifty times, especially if Mommy says “all done” and Geddy is not all done. At least it sounds more like cracker now than crack

During breakfast I listen to our son tackle apple ("ahp mol"), or peaches ("pshpsh"), and sometimes the odd word like fox. Yeah, that last one really doesn't come out right. He loves to say happy and start clapping, waiting for me to sing "If You're Happy and You Know it," and the other day he started saying clap. (By the way, now that Geddy is over a year old he is starting to use sign language, something we almost gave up on. He will sign more, please, and thank you, instead of just clapping for everything he wants.)

Thanks to Daddy, Geddy can say fork quite well, though doesn't know the difference between a fork and a spoon. Every utensil is a fork. When he's thirsty, just a couple of weeks ago he would smack his mouth and point to his water; now he says water ("wadder") and drink ("dink"). But the sippy cup is becoming SO yesterday. Geddy prefers to find any container ("cup") he can get his hands on and help himself to the water dispenser in the fridge. Some water makes it into his mouth, but most is happily splashed on the floor. 

Once we leave the kitchen, if we ever really leave the kitchen throughout our day, we can expect Geddy to ask for music ("mick") and then go over and turn on the radio. He usually wants to dance and will tell Daddy, in sign, more please if Daddy stops dancing. Geddy also might want to go outside ("side") and take a walk, but first he will get his shoes ("shoe"). If we are not jumping on this idea of exercise, Geddy will say door and probably try to open it. 

With luck, walk or not, when it is nap time Geddy might say bed, night, pillow ("piwwoah") or blanket ("bank") and most definitely he will say lambie ("ammy") and Pooh and be ready to snuggle down with his buddies. Today it was chair, because he has started enjoying sitting in his own chair when we read stories before sleep; and puppy, because he didn't want The Pigeon Wants a Puppy until I said it was time to nap and then he wanted to read it very much! 

At meal times and before bed Geddy can be ready with an amen before the prayer even starts. He sometimes likes to run around the house saying amen. Such enthusiasm even shows up in his sleep.
One night Geddy woke me up yelling out "fly! fly!" Either he was having a fantastic dream about flying or he was running around swatting imaginary flies, a favorite game when awake. 

Of all the words Geddy can say, my favorites are Mommy? hug, when little arms wrap around my neck, or around my legs when he runs up behind me. And Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, tickle, when Geddy and Luke are playing. 

These words, with that little face and dimpled smile, make me glad to say five thirty every morning.

Monday, November 24, 2014


When I think of Thanksgiving, or hear the word spoken, I do believe dried corn and colorful leaves pop up like a slide show in my head. They surround the word as if I'm staring at a school bulletin board display decorated for the holiday and all about pilgrims and indians. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade then comes to mind and I see that silly turkey float, a marching band, and Snoopy in the sky. (Oh man, how I loved watching that parade as a kid! I still like it, but it never seems to have the same magic anymore. I blame it all on the fact that I am now too old to become a baton twirler or one of the dancers in a Broadway show, performing a number before the parade gets going.) All these images stir something warm and delicious inside me as if I'm a mug of cocoa on a snowy day.

Now all our snow has melted yet Thanksgiving is just around the corner. It will be Geddy's 2nd, my 5th as a wife, and my I-won't-say-how-many as a person. I have spent Thanksgivings at the beach— freezing my toes off because we were not in the tropics—at home with family coming over, away from home at other family members' houses, and I have enjoyed one Thanksgiving in France where we had quite a feast and celebration thanks to all the American students at my school putting it all together. No matter where I spend it, I still feel amazing inside.

I think about the traditions I want to keep and new family magic that Luke and I can create with our son. This gets me to thinking forward to Christmas as well. So much about the holidays are just that, pure magic, and I want to capture it and build on it and sprinkle it about like confetti. My blessed, safe upbringing just makes it all seem like these feelings, joys, and traditions must exist for everyone. But they don't.

Ugh. I can't stand to think about children in my city without cozy, loving, family magic and reasons for brimming with thankfulness. I can't stand it, then I dwell on it, then I bury it from my mind. I can give money to the shelter; I can buy someone a turkey; I can donate toys at Christmas; I can smile; I can be kind; I can pray. But I can't give them the childhood they've never known.

I can't give grownups who had crappy childhoods a redo: no "abracadabra your childhood was AWESOME and you love the holidays too."

And it hurts to realize that God can't do it either. I mean, yes, God could turn back time, God could snap his fingers, whatever, he's all powerful, all knowing, all God. But if he did any of that it would just screw EVERYTHING up and we would no longer have God as God but just some genie or something. We wouldn't have reason for his sacrifice or hope of life eternal without sin.

So I get out my Kleenex and blow my nose and take a deep breath and stop my insane train of thought and relax a bit because no one is going to change the past, for better or worse, and it is OK for me to enjoy my beautiful memories and share them with my husband and son, but I need to still do what I can to love in the now and make it worth it for others. Whatever I can is enough because Jesus died to make everyone whole, and that's everything that matters. That's worthy of thanksgiving. I can keep my corn, and leaves, and parade, and warm fuzzy magical joy and know that there will be a day when Thanksgiving will cover the biggest table ever and every million billion person around it will be brimming with gratitude.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dirty Windows, Happy Home

From here in my squishy red chair I see the glass of the back door, smudged with child spit and fingerprints. For the first time in my four years in this house I cleaned that window and now my son sees fit to keep it from invisibility. It took a few days after the washing for Luke to exclaim, “Oh, the window’s clean!” I told him to look at it below his knees and he would see our son’s handiwork.

A friend mentioned the other evening that she knew someone who had kept an immaculate house, never a speck of dust, never a dirty dish left on the counter, but it all changed when the grandkids were born. Now this person wouldn’t dream of cleaning off the handprints from her windows. She even shows them off proudly to guests, boasting in the same way grandparents do when they show pictures of their grandchildren. An odd toy here or there, a kid’s left shoe, a print on the glass—memories live in each one and fill the house up with joy even after the kids have gone home to their parents.

I don’t want to wait until I’m a grandmother to cherish every little sign of childhood in my home, even if it means a dirty window. Luke also said, not long ago, that our house feels so much like home now when he returns from work and must step over blocks and balls on his way to the kitchen. He’s right; how can I stress about the mess when we have such a beautiful, wonderful, adorable reason behind it?

So, was it yesterday? I got down on the floor next to Geddy and breathed onto the windowpane and drew smiley faces. He laughed and started huffing and puffing and really mostly spitting on the glass with me. Now when he’s napping I can see our marks and smile again and know that when he wakes up we can add to our design.

(Here is our little window artist who, strangely quiet in the other room one day, was found just hanging out like this-->)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Angels in the Grocery Store

I searched for the boxes of apple cider on the high shelf, noticing the sweet little man in the wheelchair in front of me and his kind little wife pushing him along slowly. They made a train down the aisle, she also pulling a cart behind her. I waited until they got by, found the cider, and turned to put it in my cart when I heard a woman's voice.

"You're doing such a great job, but I'm not in a hurry and I'd love to push your cart for you."

I looked back to see a tall woman, maybe in her 40s, take over the old woman's cart and follow the couple the rest of the way past me and on to another part of the store. I couldn't quite make out the response except to hear gratitude in a wavery voice. Wow, that's paying it forward, I thought to myself. That's news worthy of sharing.

I continued in the opposite direction when it occurred to me that the compassionate stranger must have had a cart herself. Then I saw it, just a few items full, resting to the side at the end of the aisle.

I didn't see the old couple the rest of my time in the store nor did I see their new friend again, but I will never forget them.

Creative Commons Jamison Judd

Saturday, October 25, 2014

For Grandma Betty

To Whom It May Concern: (an open letter from my husband, Luke)

Not being the crazy socialite that many of my friends and family members are, I don't tend to share intimate details of my life with the cloud.  However, yesterday morning my grandma Betty passed away in her home in Stanfield, Oregon after a long battle with cancer.  My mom and her sisters have spent the last few weeks at my grandma's side, taking care of her right up to the end.  I ask for your thoughts and prayers for my family as we learn to live in a world without my grandmother in it. 

We have so much to be thankful for; if there is any doubt, ask sometime about my cousin Wyatt's life flight from Baker to Boise a couple nights ago.  God has blessed our family and I am thankful for the chance to know my grandma as well as I do . . . (I guess that is, now, did).  Being one of the many grandkids who lived with Grandma and Grandpa for several years, I know first hand her love and her sense of humor.  Then of course, there was her saltshaker action (again, ask about it sometime). 

We will remember her for Friday nights around the piano, for her poetry, and for her gravelly voiced rendition of "Have you ever wondered when the hearse goes by..." Now that I think about it, I think Grandma may have been a little morbid to sing us that tune when I was the ripe old age of seven or eight.  And thinking about it more, many of her favorites were pretty morbid, just ask Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout!

Moving on...  For many people, their grandparents exist as a pleasant week or two in the summer and a few presents at Christmas and birthdays.  I have been blessed to have grandparents actively involved in my life and in shaping who I am today.  My grandfather taught me how to work, to pay attention to the details and to not give up when things get tough.  He also taught me that life isn’t fair: picture an elementary school kid playing him basketball or searching for an egg mounted inside a fence post.  Grandma taught me how to live.  She taught me to be honest and courteous.  She taught me how to laugh, to sing and to not take things at face value.   She tried to teach me about heartbreak when I was beginning one specific relationship, warning me “It isn’t just little girls that get hurt; little boys get hurt too.”  Unfortunately that one I had to learn first hand.  I said she taught, I didn’t say I listened. J

So this is the end…  Dramatic huh?  Don’t worry; it is just the end of this letter.  As a Christian, I feel the loss of a loved one as acutely as anyone else.  The difference comes in the form of hope and faith.  “Hope” that death has been defeated by Jesus and that what we call death is really only the beginning.  “Faith” that it is true.  This world is a darker place without my grandma’s light, but I know I will see her again.

Thank you Grandma Betty.  All my love, your grandson, --Luke

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paying it Forward

Perhaps I'm the only one out there a little miffed by the drive-thru-pay-it-forward kindness going on. Yes, I don't doubt it gives people a wonderful feeling inside when they pay for the order of the driver behind them. I don't doubt that the receiver of the gift feels happy and surprised. But I feel irksome when it happens at places like, say, Starbucks, because everyone is there getting pricey beverages or pastries. They must be able to afford it or they wouldn't be in line. It's almost a luxury, don't you think? And if everybody just keeps paying for everybody, well, why is it frowned upon when someone suddenly just accepts the gift?

I debated for a few months whether to even write about this, because I don't want to judge the people dining at Starbucks. I especially don't want to look down my nose at the person who maybe shouldn't spend her last two pennies on a frappuchino, because, really, we all deserve a little treat now and then. And the last thing I really want to do is criticize or judge how people choose to give.

Ah, but that is what I am doing.

Here's what got me all worked up. I read a news article about a particular Starbucks that had pay it forward going all day one day, resulting in I don't remember how many hundred orders paid for by the drivers in front. It came to an end when someone decided to accept the gift but not pay for the driver behind him or her. What did the barista do? He (or she) told the driver about the chain of kindness and asked if the driver wanted to keep it going. The driver did not. Then the barista said, quoted in the article, that he (or she) didn't think the last person really understood the concept of pay it forward.

I say maybe the person really did understand. Maybe the person thought that pay it forward wasn't about free fluffy drinks or making the news by setting some kind of record for a business. Maybe pay it forward to that driver was all about reaching out a helping hand to someone in need. Heck, I don't know, maybe that driver was the person spending his or her last two pennies on a drink. Suddenly having those pennies probably felt really great.

So I was pretty worked up over this issue, thinking over what pay it forward meant to me, when Luke and I became the recipients of a random act of kindness while visiting a Starbucks. I was first fuming about the truck in front of us with the four wheelers and elk head strapped to the back. I was going off about why people wanted to cut off animal heads and put them on their walls (I'll save that rant in the depths of my brain), when the truck left and Luke pulled up to the window. The barista told us our drinks were paid for and would we like to pay for the ones behind. I won't tell you what we decided to do, but I will admit I felt a little bad for thinking such evil thoughts about the people in the truck.

What spurred the person ahead of us to pay for our drinks? I don't know. I can't question his motives. I do hope it was in the spirit of spontaneous giving, or if not spontaneous at least not because he felt guilted into it. It was nice.

Rather than judging everyone or picking apart how they share money or gifts with others I really need to look in my own heart. What good is it to go around telling myself, Well, I'm not going to pay for that person's coffee because he shouldn't be drinking it anyway. (Hey, I'm not a hypocrite; I never said I drink coffee at Starbucks). It goes back to what I said about action compassion. I need to live with a spirit of giving that puts callouses on my hands. Not so I can show them to everyone and brag about what I've done, but so that I am not just talking and talking and talking about doing kindness but actually doing it.

I can't say I suddenly feel great about all this pay it forward in the media (I do like good news stories for a change, but . . . ), yet I will say that I hope my grumbling turns into active ways I can pay it forward out there.

And thank you to the hunter who paid for our drinks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bathroom Humor

Over the last month and a half we've been plunging into the world of bathroom remodeling. This means covering the upstairs in a fine layer of sawdust, adding more white hairs to our heads from splattering paint, hearing dear Luke hurl a curse word out the window, watching sweet Annie break down over obnoxious blue painters tape, being thankful for that emergency fund that Dave Ramsey told us to save up, and teaching stubborn Geddy to love taking a bath in the stall shower downstairs.

It all started with carpet around the tub. We never liked it there but we tolerated it. Then we realized that it wasn't meant to be a seashell pink but a stark white. The mold had to go! My naive belief was that we—and of course by we I meant Luke—would take out the carpet, lay down some new vinyl, and yea! Job done. Luke was all hands on and ready to finish the job in a week, then he came to the yucky orange vinyl under the carpet. After slicing, ripping, melting, and pulling out that hideous number he got to dig into damaged and crumbling underlayment. Finally he got to the beautiful subfloor. But this was only in the toilet and shower area of our two-part bathroom. We knew we had to go all the way. 

If there had been nothing on the floor the job might have been a little shorter, but naturally the toilet had to be removed. When Luke took out the toilet we decided the back deck would be the least confusing place to keep it. Geddy likes to play in the backyard. He found the toilet quite the neat attraction. As I kept trying to keep him away from the toilet while I cleaned it I thought, Huh, would it be too redneck to start potty training Geddy right there? He could run around without a diaper and if he had any accidents we could just let the neighborhood cat bury them. If he wanted to use the potty we wouldn't have to race him inside to the bathroom first!

Well Geddy decided against the potty training on the back porch, but I had trouble remembering where to use the facilities. One night I woke up with a great urge to pee, stumbled into the bathroom, and then thought to myself, Huh, when did we get one of those European toilets? The next morning I hoped it was only a dream that I had crouched over the hole in the night.

Along with the toilet, Luke had to remove our two pedestal sinks. That started a leetle leak. Geddy’s talking in his sleep woke me at four one morning. After checking on him and going back to bed I realized I heard a drip, drip, drip drip, sploop. Drip. Drip drip drip. Odd, I thought. I didn't hear that when I went to bed. Then it hit me. OH NO! The leaking from one of the sink faucets had caused the small dish we put down to overflow. I raced in there to find exactly what I feared: Our exposed subfloor was soaked. "We are going to have to cut part of it out!" I screamed in my head as I put a trashcan under the drip and used a towel to soak up the water. Luke never woke up during my frenzy. Fortunately, later in the morning he looked at it and said it would be fine. It just needed to dry. 

Well, two guys named Chip and Dale (I think those were their names) came to put the new floor in because Luke decided he wanted the floor so well done we wouldn't have to replace it in a few weeks. He still took on the plumbing and reinstalled the toilet and sinks. I ended up painting the walls with some late-night help from Luke the night before the new floor came. Of course we ran out of paint, but I won't go into that here. It was all starting to come together. Then I couldn't get the stinking sticky blue tape off from around two door frames that we had decided to leave on. So while I was crying and fuming over all the additional work, Luke took off the molding and a little bit of paint and wall with it. More crying and fuming. Then I spent a lovely afternoon scraping paint off the molding. Lesson learned: take everything off the walls to begin with and avoid the blue tape.

It was time to put the sinks back. I won't even list all the trips to Home Depot, but my wonderful husband made for a pretty hot plumber and the sinks were in solid without leaks. Then he called down the stairs to ask me to get a paper towel ready. What gross thing was he going to come hand me? I wondered. He appeared in the kitchen with white gunk on his fingers. Caulk. As I helped him wipe it off I asked him, Why didn't you wear gloves? He just smiled at me and didn't say a word.

If only this were the end of the story but I haven't much mentioned the bathtub. Right now it's nearing hour seventy-two of paint curing. Shouldn't we have painted it before the new floor went in? We don't do easy like that. Once that touch up project is over, Luke gets to caulk again and reinstall the fixtures for the shower. We did buy a new shower head, so that's fun. I do like to walk into our bathroom now and just admire it and ignore my painting mistakes. I'm thinking of permanently roping it off and making it into our museum feature. Every house should have one of those rooms, right? I can't stand the thought of something else going wrong and needing replacing so perhaps we'll just keep using the downstairs bathroom. As long as I don't head through the wrong door in the night when I need to pee, I think it will work out fine! 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Sand Chronicles

We took our first big family vacation at the end of August: two states, one ocean, and a million grains of sand made for one worn out but happy Geddy. Our son slept some of the best naps and nights of his life while away from home, and it is usually the opposite when he has to sleep elsewhere. I chock it all up to grandparents and sand thrilling and exhausting him as he constantly kept on the go. And he even says the word "go" now.

Outside, outside, outside—where Geddy wanted to be. He would pound on the yurt door and, once through it and down the steps, head for the road and the beach. He knew the way after our first outing, and could walk along pointing as he went. Strong winds, blowing sand, cold ocean water, fog, bright sunshine—none of these deterred him from walking, crawling, and crab scuttling his way over the sand. He loved to squish the dry sheets of sand in his fingers and laugh and laugh and do it again. He loved to scoop up the wettest of the wet sand and fling it all over himself and anyone standing nearby. He loved playing by the creek, being wet, and watching Daddy's kite zip around over his head. He loved cawing to the seagulls. There was nothing more joyful than watching his excitement. Or than watching father and son play together. The only part Geddy didn't like was when we showered the sand off of him. So, he only got one shower and spent most of the week with sand between his toes. And in his diaper. And in his hair.

How sad to leave the sandy shores, but I'm thinking visiting every summer just might become our family tradition. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When I Grow Up I Want to be an Imagination Diffuser

Taking out the box of Cheerios one day—so my son could throw the cereal on the floor—I read the following:

"Carefully selected oats that can help lower cholesterol"

Then my imagination took over and I said to my husband, "What kind of job that must be—Oat Selector." I pictured this guy picking through a barrel of oats going, "Not this one. OK, this one's good. Not this one." He sits there tossing oats over his shoulder and putting some in a nearby Cheerio box, this skinny man in his fifties, balding, wearing a white lab coat. I laughed at the idea I had conjured.

Maybe no such occupation exists, but there are some rather fantastic jobs out there. I recently met a bee chauffeur. He doesn't call himself that, but his incredible work is to drive bees around to their work and social engagements. They could fly to the almond trees in California, but they get to ride there in style. I think that's incredible.

I just found online that there are people called gold stackers who have to move bars of gold from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. I don't know if this is like seasonal work or what, but it must be mind boggling to touch so much gold in one work day.

When I was in France I toured a perfume factory and learned that a person can get a job as a Nose, or le nez. Mixing scents that will smell good and sell well takes keen olfactory ability. I might have a big nose but I think I would just get sick, thus I will never be a nez.

Some jobs may or may not be exciting but they could really use some new titles to uplift people and give them a new outlook on an old career. When I taught middle school I sometimes called myself an encourager of teenagers. My time didn't always revolve around encouragement, though I tried to make it so, but thinking of myself as a teacher just didn't fit. My goal was to encourage and help kids want to learn and teach themselves. There are, truly, very few subjects I can actually teach. I think I'm better at being a guide. Plus, just think of all the negative connotations around the title "teacher." There's the old lady with the ruler, the man who stands at the front of the class and drones on and on in monotony. And the saying, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." But if you said, "Oh, I'm an encourager of teenagers," or, "I'm a Homo sapien zookeeper,"—ooh, what a cool-sounding job! How could you slap hands with a ruler or be bored by your own lecture if that is what you really believed you did for a living?

Hmm. So right now, I'm a writer. It's sort of an occupation, sometimes for pay, sometimes for an audience other than I. Just saying "writer" might plant a variety of images in people's heads, from reporter with a pencil behind his ear to novelist sitting in front of her typewriter. People might think, so sad, you don't make any money. Or, why don't you go out and get a real job? They might say, "I wish I could write! I want to be the next J.K. Rowling." Maybe I should change the name of what I do, like maybe more than once, just for fun. Maybe it would make for a more appealing conversation, attract more people into the world of words, or at least inspire me to keep at what I love regardless of what people say or think. I could be an essay engineer, an imagination diffuser, a sentence aesthetician. Cool!

Imagine if kids didn't say they wanted to be nurses or firefighters or cops but compassionate healers, flame destroyers, and peace protectors. Maybe people would look on their jobs with more joy. Imagine if the oat selectors in the Cheerio factory went in to work smiling about all the people whose cholesterol lowered after eating the cereal. I mean, when I smile as my son laughs and hides Cheerios in his high chair, I feel pretty healthy.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Short-Story Teaser: Excerpt from "The Bird Man"

 Vous avez l’air triste, Mademoiselle.”
Uh, oh. He had spotted me. I hugged my backpack closer to my chest. My fear of speaking mangled French with a native coupled with my fear of homeless people. My folks taught me that all these people want money for booze and drugs. Of course, I always did my part for those truly in need. I donated blood to the Red Cross. See, I thought I was this good person or something. You knew that. My false humility manifested in my quiet presence, but I sure looked down my nose a lot.
I felt myself standing there, staring, so I tried out a sentence in French to tell him No, not sad, just serious, and then I looked around for you and wondered if I should have gone to the phone booth too.
“Ah, you are American,” he said in perfect English.
Oh man, I didn’t even get that one simple sentence correct. So much for all that money spent on school.
“Uh, yeah,” I answered in embarrassment. I hated admitting it. I feared a stereotype. I wasn’t one of those Americans who thought everyone should speak English, even in different countries.
“America, the beautiful. Purple mountains.” His yellow teeth showed and he wheezed again. His pigeon friend still hopped at his feet. “It is a song, non?”
“Right, of course.” My cheeks surely blushed deeper.
“Mademoiselle, you think I am crazy? You think I have nothing better to do than play with birds all day?”
He leaned toward me and I grabbed your backpack and shoved it between my feet. His tone less playful, I grew more wary and answered quickly, “No, not at all.”
He sat back again on the bench. Then he turned and smiled dreamily, or crazily, at some more birds that swooped in to pick at the sandwich crumbs. “It is true. What have I to do but this? I used to own a bookstore,” he kept his eyes on the birds. “My wife wanted to move to Spain, where she’s from, and I didn’t want to leave my store. So she left me. I begged her to stay. I promised I would sell the store in five years, just five years more. She never wanted to be married to a shop owner anyway. She wanted me to take over my father’s vineyards. I didn’t want that. She did. She’s gone.” He sighed, and threw some more bits of bread from his pocket out to the pigeons. “We used to feed the birds together. Now my store is gone—business never that good anyway—my wife is gone, and all I have are the birds.” 
My hands loosened a little on our packs and I lost myself, for a second, thinking what a sad story. I thought it had to be a sad story, right, because if he wanted drink or drug money he needed my pity. But some kind of feeling welled in me for a minute, such that I almost burst into tears. Back home I always pretended that homeless people didn’t bleed like you and I.
Just as I was thinking I should say something, you came breezing back, a little too happy considering the news you had: no place to stay. You said we needed to get somewhere a little safer before dark. Then you grabbed your pack and started walking.

I turned to look at the man and my voice caught in my throat. But his eyes, staring right into mine, gave me a chill of sadness. Did he think we thought he wasn’t safe? All my body language had indicated as much. So I left with you. Just left.