This afternoon after work Alex and I took the Max downtown to have a dinner and a movie date. I've been trying hard to make special time for him because his sister has been such a monumental pain in his ass lately. He keeps begging me to change the schedule so he never has to be around his sister ever. Unfortunately that will never work for any of us, but I don't mind taking him on my would-be kid-free weekends. In fact, I kinda dig the dude's company. Especially since I know first-hand how he feels when he gets ignored because one of his parents is busy dealing with a sibling meltdown. I had a pain-in-the-ass older brother who unwittingly stole my parents energy and attention (if not so much their affection) and can relate to feeling, like, sorry I'm so EASY GOING that I get totally ignored, MOMANDDAD. I won't be perfect at it by any stretch, but I'm actively trying to counteract said pain-in-the-ass-hattery.
And my son is just really COOL. He's the perfect hybrid between a surfer and a super geeky gamer, so I never need to worry that he'll become a pothead. He already sounds like one.
But I still wait until we've already boarded the Max to remind him about my project. I was somehow worried that by giving away our money to the homeless, my kids would feel neglected. We don't have a TV. I don't buy toys. Ever. The occasional song or game download, maybe, and plenty of out-of-the-house fun and activity, but I don't buy them STUFF. I was worried I'd hear some kind of hateful, "but you could buy us an iPad with that money," crap and need to sell them to the gypsies.
"I have $100 in my pocket. Let's try to find someone to give it to tonight, okay?"
Like a boss, he just nodded.
I had underestimated him.
We were on.
Our mission was to head to the Mission (theater) to see BladeRunner. MY mission was to get there early enough to find this guy I was looking for before the movie started. The guy who always slept under that weird right triangle shelter at the corner of NW 21st and NW Kearney, a few blocks from Joel's old apartment. I've walked past that dude at least a dozen times on my way to Cinema 21 to stand in line for the HUMP fest or to endure another Hitchcock movie and I thought it would feel good to pay forward all those times I stepped over him to get in line instead of helping him. Alex and I walked nearly two miles out of our way, but the only thing we found in that corner was a giant terracotta (cockblock) pot.
Plan B was to head to the corner of NW Irving and 18th, where I used to see a threesome of sleeping bags parked every night under the shelter of an auto shop driveway. A beefy utility truck had parked there instead, even though the building was still vacant. No humans. Another perfect sleeping bag spot, gone.
So we went to the movie. And walked out early because I forgot how dark and slow BladeRunner is. Alex finished his candy and wanted to go. So we did.
It wasn't until we got off the max for our line-change that we found our person. He was an early-twenties kid with rectangular geek glasses and a sign that said, "Please help, Laid off."
"This guy," I told Alex. We doubled back.
"Here's a hundred dollars," I said. "I hope it helps."
He horked out a combination of gratitude and shame that brought the first of the tears to my eyes.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I've never had to do this before."
"I know. I could tell. And I've been there and I want to pay it forward."
A pause. A look. I'm guessing, a nod. (It all happened so fast.)
"Is it okay? Do you want a hug?" I asked.
He stood up.
"I'm Amanda," I whispered as we held each other. His sweater was soft and fine under my hands. J. Crew, I'm guessing, but only because I know what it's like to be him. His face was awful. I hate to say that about a person, but Last Resort I'll Do ANYthing is a LOOK. And I've sadly had it.
"My name is John," he said as he tumbled away. "Thank you so much. I'm gonna go find myself a room for tonight."
We crossed the street to wait for our next train. It took him a minute, but Alex's two cents bubbled to the surface pretty quickly.
"I think this homeless thing is pretty great, mom."
Neither of us can wait to do it again.