no matter what, i love asheville

perhaps you will judge me for this story, but oh well. i need/want to process my thoughts.

i went to a birthday party in asheville tonight. one of my friends/co-workers invited me to join her party at a restaurant downtown. so, i did. i parked my car in a parking lot across the street from the restaurant. when i walked over to the machine where i pay for my parking, i was met by a 40-50 year old man who stuck out his hand to shake mine, introduced himself, and asked me for $5. it was clear that this was a homeless man. he told me he was hungry and asked again for the money. i told him that i had no cash with me (note to self: always carry a little bit of cash), but that i could go to an atm to get some so he could have some food. in a perfect world, i could go and buy him food and then give it to him, but i was due at the birthday party so i didn't have time.

let me tell you a little something about myself. i give money to homeless people. i say this not to say that i am some great humanitarian, but to say that this is not something weird for me to do. and i am not ashamed. over the years i have met some amazing homeless people who have touched me deeply, and some who are crazy, and some who made no real impression on me. so, in my belief/practice of the equality of all people and because i try to not judge people based on their circumstances or outward appearance, i walked with this man downtown for about 10 minutes. we talked about haiti, poverty, and laughter. at a stoplight/crosswalk, he asked if he could hug me. i wasn't scared or concerned...rather i was humbled by this opportunity to share a human moment with him. however, i was aware that a police car was stopped at the same light and there were people all around, which helped me feel more at ease. i'm not stupid, and i am cautious. we crossed the street, he stayed at the corner, and i went to get money. when i gave it to him, he gave me a hug, and then he took off.

i waited for the light to turn, crossed the street, and felt a bit disappointed that he just took the money and "ran". a few steps later, the police car pulled over beside where i was walking. the policeman rolled down his window and called me over. he asked me if the man was bothering me. i told him no; that he had asked for money and i gave it to him, and we had walked together, but he had not bothered me. the policeman asked again if i was ok and i replied that i was. i told him that i appreciated him "looking out for me" (and i do!). then, i walked on. when i got a few steps away, he got out of his car and approached the homeless man. i kept walking and headed to the party.

i had a nice time at the party... leisurely enjoying my food, beer, and the company around me. about 15 minutes before i left, i looked outside and saw the homeless man hanging out again near the parking lot across the street. i looked back at my surroundings and i thought about the gap that exists between us. a few brief moments of shared humanity and then back to our individual lives. is that right? is that just the way that it is and must i accept that? will there ever be justice and equality? will there always be people who have to beg for money and go to sleep at night hungry?

it was a strange night. it was good. and disappointing. and heartbreaking. and amazing. no matter what, though, i will always love asheville.

Postat av: catherine

Liz, I love your posts. You are thought-provoking and inspiring and real.

2010-01-20 @ 07:29:54
Postat av: liz

thank you for the comment, catherine! how's it going back in the states? hope you are doing good! kram.

2010-01-21 @ 11:37:09

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