so i was reading this, about how important it is, during the cold weather, to donate blankets and coats. there are so many people out there, and so little a societal safety net to catch them. and they are cold. even in the warmer parts of the country, it gets damn cold at night.
and in the reading of that i was moved to tell you a story about my past, something i don’t often speak of. i don’t feel comfortable with this, but i am compelled.
it was a litttle over three years ago. chris and i had a major falling out, and through a series of circumstances that aren’t even really writable, i found myself, in the last months of nineteen ninety-nine, with no place to live.
for the purpose of this story i must admit that the hard times i’d fallen on prior to this falling out involved me being in the cal-works program. that’s welfare, ok? i was a single welfare mother with a part time internship job found through the cal-works office, where the educational counselor was impressed enough by my fledgeling attempts at making websites to find me this job, this minimum wage for half the time i worked job, while i went to school. i made so little money i still qualified for welfare payments. but none of this was enough for me to afford an apartment when i found myself suddenly out. out of my home.
enter the salvation army transitional living center, and a small miracle. there were eight studio-type apartments and a single women’s dormitory in the facility, in the heart of downtown ventura (yes, a homeless shelter three blocks from the beach – very ventura, that). openings in the family shelter were rare, but the morning i met with Miss Donna, there was a resident moving out the next day. chances of that? maybe one in fifty. maybe more.
i’d like to go into how much that chance saved my sorry ass, how without it i have no idea where, or if, i’d be now. but that’s not what i had to say when i began writing this. i just wanted to tell you about a dream of mine.
while i was living at the shelter, one winter afternoon, a couple pulled up in an unremarkable, rather worn looking mini-winnebago type thing. they approached the fenced patio area, where children were playing and parents were smoking and hanging out. they had a huge bag, full of child-sized knit gloves and matching caps, and they handed out a set to each kid. it was a quiet, simple, thoughful gesture. it was a small bright difference made in some difficult lives.
it’s my dream to do just that same thing one day. i’m figuring this year — this last one ended kinda rough. but i’m going to do it, just as simply and humbly as that couple did. if i did do new year’s resolutions, this would be mine.