October 25th. Day 25 of My Month of Hundreds.
It was a kind of strange day today. The Sunday Oregonian article brought a lot of attention and traffic to the blog and I found myself having a mini anxiety attack. I loved all the comments on the article, and was very moved by people sharing their own stories, telling how they felt inspired, and really getting what I am doing. Even the negative comments were somehow comforting, as they mostly reflected things I have thought myself and have been expecting to hear from others. I want to respond to every comment and message and I will, eventually.
I’m also kind of freaking out that it is DAY TWENTY-FIVE. I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do come November 1, but I know there is no turning back. It breaks my heart to think about being “done” with this project. I want to keep going, even without the money piece. Sometimes it feels like it is about the money, and sometimes not. Mostly it feels like the C-note is a shorthand way of getting people’s attention and letting them know that they made an impact on me and I want to do the same. Strange.
It was a busy day and I put off my gift till it was starting to get dark. I had to do a few errands and thought the opportunity would arise at the library, or Rite-Aid or, surely, at the grocery store. Not today.
Walking by the laundromat I saw a woman with two pre-teen kids. They were all folding clothes, obviously a well-oiled team. I wasn’t sure but thought maybe the younger kid was wearing pajamas, and imagined that all the clothes they owned were in the piles on the counter. I sidled closer but felt the urge pass when I saw the three Starbucks cups lined up next to their folded clothes.
Leaving the grocery store I seemed to see affluence everywhere and was starting to panic that I wouldn’t find the right person tonight. It had gotten pretty dark. I got in my car and started slowly heading home, feeling rather defeated.
I was sitting at a red light behind a row of cars when I saw someone standing in a small halo of light at the bus stop. I pulled the car over and jumped out.
It was a woman in a big puffy black coat and a hat pulled down over her eyebrows. She was surrounded by plastic shopping bags. “Hi”, I said. “You waiting for the bus?” (this was brilliant.) “Yeah”, she said. “I’m headed to the laundromat. I hope I’m going the right way.” She smiled, revealing two broken front teeth. “It’s just my second day here.” She told me that she had come from Atlanta over the weekend. “My life wasn’t going so good down there and my friend said she was moving here, so I decided to come too.”
She was friendly and didn’t really seem to think it strange that I had left my car a few feet away to talk with her. I told her about my mom and she said she was sorry. Then I gave her the C-note. “You serious? For real?” I said yes and she said, “Give me a hug! I’m gonna cry now.” She said her name was Cassidy and she normally wouldn’t take a handout but that she really needed the cash. “Technically, I don’t have anywhere to stay tonight. Thank you so much. I applied for a job today. If that comes through I’ll be okay.”
I told Cassidy that I hope our city treats her well and that things work out for her. As I got into the car she gave me a wave. As I drove off I looked back and saw her wiping her eyes.
What am I going to do?