Trying to get back home

October 15th. The 15th day of giving away $100. The month is just about half over and I feel a definite sadness over turning that corner.

I did some grocery shopping today on my way home from work. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t see the guy who’s always there selling Street Roots. It worried me. I heard recently that another of the vendors I saw regularly outside the neighborhood library had died from a heroin overdose.

There were plenty of other people milling around, though. I got stopped by a well-dressed guy who asked if I wanted to “talk about the local elections”. Maybe he was just in the mood to chat but it seemed unlikely. I  didn’t want to be rude or have him think that I don’t care about the local elections. But I didn’t want to talk, so I told him I was “all set” (whatever that meant) and sped by.

I’ve started keeping the $100 bill in my pocket for easy access. I could feel it crinkling around in there as I made my way through the store. I watched a couple of young women selecting and grinding their coffee beans. I liked them and thought about stopping to talk. Then I noticed that they had picked the one brand of coffee beans that was not on sale. I moved on.

I finished my shopping and paid. The cashiers were having an animated conversation and were polite enough to try to include me. “Do you karaoke?” I said no but that it sounded fun (which was pretty much a lie).

Outside I saw this lovely couple with their instruments; they were just winding up a number. The open violin case held a few dollar bills held down by some change. Their clothes were kind of tattered, with odd configurations of layers. They made me think of the wonderful movie “Once”. We started to chat and they said they were from the Bay Area. They came up here for the summer but now that it’s getting cold out they want to go back home when they get the money together.

“Well, I hope this helps a little”. I put the C-note in the violin case. The woman’s eyes got big. “Oh, my god! Thank you so much. Thank you!” We talked a little more and I told them about my mom and my Month of Hundreds.  The woman sweetly offered me her sincere condolences, and then they played me a song.

feed the kittens in the kitchen.
set food out for the strays.
try hard to do your best.
the magpie will have his way.

(from Magpie, by the Mountain Goats)

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