Saturday, January 29, 2005

living room revisited

do you find that if you first have strong sensibilities about something, that if you give it time, they sometimes mellow out over time?

after celebrating katy's debut with her family for her first paying opera (GO KATY!!) at a swanky, lovely restaurant, boulevard, i popped by my old stomping grounds better known as "The Living Room Coffeehouse" for streetkids. for about four years i volunteered and for a time helped run this coffeehouse every friday night, that served as a respite for streetkids to come inside, get off the street and enjoy a movie and pastry. it went through some changes and i found myself being pulled away.

i think it had been a good year and a half since i'd been, until last night. and even then, i didn't want to go. but my old partner in crime, mary nan, was in town and she was definitely going to be there- kind of like old times but not. it's amazing how a space can have such strong intuitive influence. within the first few minutes of walking in, i felt exhausted, almost crushed. as if the weight of the world was coming crashing down on my head. weird.

there were a few faces i recognized like robert, mailman, dan (aka kerosene--looking very healthy, even though his diabetes is still not in check), alexis and others. naturally i gravitated toward the kitchen, to survey the creative cooking that i remember well. within minutes i was put to work- nothing had changed. there was a hungry crowd that needed to be fed, and i was available to help for a little bit. my job consisted of blending a cream, cauliflower and matzo ball soup, with various interesting elements to thicken its consistency.

robert and i talked afterward. he told me he no longer is on the street. he has an apartment, and will even sometimes invite some streetkids back to crash there, provided they don't steal anything or move anything. he knows the proper place for each thing in his house- which makes this possible.

a week ago, a guy named shaggy died in his apartment.

he explained how shaggy had been in a car accident which put him in a wheelchair. all of his "friends" down at golden gate park seemed to dissipate upon this turn of events. he told me that shaggy before the accident had had a lot of money and purchased several lamps to grow weed. he had a lot of friends then.

once he was in a wheelchair though, it was just him and his brother. they had asked these "fair weather friends" if they could crash at one of the hotels they were squatting at, but were told there was no room. robert proceeded to tell me that that put them sleeping in the park for a few days, with just a tarp and a blanket.

he got sick from this and crossed robert's path, who had been his friend for a while. robert brought in shaggy and his bro. and a week before he died, had told his mom that he would be staying with robert until he and his bro. could get their own place. things looked like they were on the up and up.

and then one morning, robert woke up and went in the other room, and found that shaggy was not breathing. he told me he freaked out. but that's not strong enough really. he was likened to have gone mad when he saw shaggy was no longer there. at the hospital, shaggy's mom ID'd him and thus the sad end of his life. i told him i wanted to give him a hug, and he said he was okay.

"I just needed to vent. thanks for listening."

what a mad world. i have gary jules/tears for fears in my head as i write this. i left shortly after. feeling i am different but the same as the blundering kid who used to pour so much of herself into these people. glad to see that friendships carry on, that frequency does not dictate the parameters of friendships.


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