Co Written By: Ashley B. Patton
I am your average fly. Moving full speed ahead with no real direction, I can often get entangled into the stickiest of webs. Unintentionally, I make rash decisions that often happen when a young adult becomes a real adult. Everything is going smoothly; life’s boat is coasting with the tide. Then out of nowhere comes a tropical thunderstorm that does everything but sink my boat. Freaking Life of Pi.
Drowning in my own web of confusion, I am often stuck to my own mess trying to pray my way out of what seems like rock bottom. When I finally stop fighting the air and relax, I coast. During this frightening yet tranquil time, I reach out for help. For no matter how deep the fertilizer I find myself sinking into, my family will always be there to help pull me out; No matter what.
Last night I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital, I left my wallet at home and had 5 dollars in my pocket. Parking was 10. My cousin was just a phone call away. Whenever my aunt or grandmother cook they ask me if I want a plate, they actually insist. My uncle helped fix my brakes, all he wanted was a thank you. No matter how hard my day or how stressful my struggle there has always been someone there.
I imagine myself a vagrant. Walking the streets day and night; night after cold, rainy night. I have hit rock bottom. Only out on the pavement, there isn’t a mama to call. Hell, I don’t have a phone to even attempt! My hair and skin are full of soot and I haven’t changed clothes in over a week. Even if I had family to go home to, I am too ashamed to show up unannounced and filthy. On top of all that, I am hungry. Yes, the soup kitchen fed me lunch yesterday, but it’s been almost 12 hours since my last meal. The last car to pass by gave me $1. A McDonald’s burger would sound okay if I felt like being stared at and treated like I have leprosy. It does little good to cry and I have forgotten how to smile. So I just sit here on this street corner, waiting for the next $1.
Newspaper is my savior tonight. I stick it in my shoes to fill in the holes in the soles. I stuff it in my pants to block the wind from cutting through me. Today was a good day, a lady handed me a couple pieces of chicken and half a biscuit out her car. My stomach wants it but I’m trying to save it for Thanksgiving. The line at the shelter was down the street, I saw older guys that needed the heat more than me. It started with me losing my job, then my car, then more couches then I could count before my pride made me stop asking. Now I’m here walking. It’s easier to walk then it is to sit. If I sit I may not get up.
There was always someone to tend to my every need when I had lost the ability to care for myself, I give as much as I can give to those who do not have a lifeboat. I throw out a lifeline to those in my path as I travel down my own journey. For it has been said that we should pull up others as we climb higher; I just tend to reach all the way to the bottom with my outstretched arm. Every $1 I pass through my window, every care package I distribute, and every meal I serve to those less fortunate than myself is more than an act of kindness; it is my obligation.
To say I live a blessed life is an understatement. I’ve never experienced struggle. Giving doesn’t start with a turkey at Thanksgiving or a ham at Christmas. Giving starts with our intentions. The change in our ashtrays. Watching a single mother have to put back groceries and buying the things she couldn’t afford. For me giving back is showing little boys that its cool to read. It’s giving away a coat that still fits because someone just needs it more. Doing for people that need it is simply my obligation.