Walking Across Town. Blinded By the Light.

Isabel Miramontes, Come On

Mid July in Manhattan.

I step out of the Metro North car onto the platform, and walk down the tunnel in Grand Central. There’s zero transition from the air cooled train car @ 69° F to This. The body is swallowed by dampness, cool to not cool, Bam. The softness of the pressed shirt turns to less soft, to not soft, to moist, to sticking to the chest. Feet, are choking from their leather wraps, swollen from weight gain (6.3 lbs in less than 30 days) – chafing is coming, oh, it’s coming, by days end, or sooner. There will be blood.

I exhale little puppy breaths to pass the heat, trying to keep cool. Fail.

It’s 6:28 a.m. Tourists mingle in midtown, coalesce around the network TV studios and their Morning Shows – holding their cups of coffee, hoping to spot a celebrity, or better yet, get a cameo for the folks back home. Hi, Jane from Iowa!

It’s less than one block from the office and Times Square. I slow my pace. There’s no cardboard sign. A Mother. A Father. Their Child in between. All sleeping. On concrete. A tattered Umbrella protected their heads and upper torsos from the overnight rain – the umbrella is propped up with paper sacks stuffed with possessions. I look for the cup, nothing.

My hand grips the smartphone in my pocket, a photo op. A lead-in for a blog post. But –– I can’t get my hand out of my pocket. I can’t do it. Something sacred about this scene. Something about this moment where one doesn’t need a photo, you just know that this isn’t something that will disappear. It’s like Lars Saabye Christensen describes it, this moment: “You store everything inside yourself and then one day, wherever you are, whatever the time, it appears just like that, just like I could smell wet lilac now, lilac after the rain, even though we were well into autumn.”

Roll forward 24 hours. I’m driving to the office, replaying the moment.  70’s on 7 is offering background noise. Love music, never really hear, or care to hear, the Words. Just the Rhythm rocking the Bones, Thank You.

I can see them. Sleeping. Huddled together. I’m glancing back as I walk by. Over my shoulder, I stare, I can’t let go. The Mother wakes, stares at the foot traffic passing over her. She fades away. The Italian cloth from my suit, sticks to my leg. The soft leather handle from my brief case is moist from my finger tips. The toe caps glisten in the morning light. I walk by security: Good morning! The air conditioning blows, triggering goose bumps on the skin, the wrapper of bones, organs, veins, blood…and Heart. I shiver.

I glance at the video panel on the dash to check the artist. It’s Manfred Mann’s Earth Band playing “Blinded by the Light:

Blinded by the light
Revved up like a deuce
Another runner in the night
Blinded by

Notes:

Comments

  1. drop off breakfast and a tip on your way in? or a warm blanket? or? ignore the fact that there’s no cup, see the need and act –

    Liked by 4 people

  2. You need to move back to a place where you have more space.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope you see them again – not just in your mind’s eye, where you are helpless to change the result…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. May they ignite a fire within those who experience them that warms hearts and inspires compassion and kindness. Food, money, a smile, a warm coat or hat; little things to many who possess them, but perhaps everything to those who don’t. Thank you for the eloquent reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christie says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience of your walking journey to work…so heartbreaking…”It’s less than one block from the office and Times Square. I slow my pace. There’s no cardboard sign. A Mother. A Father. Their Child in between. All sleeping. On concrete. A tattered Umbrella protected their heads and upper torsos from the overnight rain – the umbrella is propped up with paper sacks stuffed with possessions. I look for the cup, nothing” Heartbreaking…and the thought of all the homeless families or children on their own, around the world, I am sure the number is staggering..Last evening my husband and I were talking about how the conditions in Calcutta, India .are so bleak and unsanitary…he is reading a book about a man traveling the world and in the chapter he just finished, the man had been volunteering at a center of Mother Threasa’s, a ward for those in end stage of life, his job was to comfort the dying and then hand washing of the contaminated blankets & then hanging out to dry, including the blankets of those who had just passed away… http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/121352/take-me-with-you-by-brad-newsham/9780345449122/ noble endeavor to invite a stranger home (someone he is searching for on his trip,), gifting them an experience…
    /// You being such a caring man, I know how it tugs at your heart to see people in dire circumstances…I hope you see them again and hopefully awake… a gesture of unsolicited kindness to them will touch their souls…leaving food or a few sleeping bags(not practical to transport when you ride the train) or water or hand sanitizer, bandaids,a comb, if the child is young enough to be in diapers perhaps ask if they could use some and what size..if they are receptive ask them their first names,.if not them then someone else who would benefit when the Opportunity To Help presents, its self…/// each breath is a gift…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful reminder and post to us all, to take opportunities in the moment and share our abundance and to be grateful for where we are now. There are no guarantees it will stay that way. Love Beth’s suggestions. Give generously 🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Be ready for next time. Have an envelope or two in your pocket. If not with money, then with a telephone number for the homeless.
    I don’t doubt that there will be more appearing for your consideration and action.
    So many have too much.
    🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I had to come back to read this David. I saw it this morning, long day.
    I’m with you about the picture. My Layla, 12 years old, has been baking birthday cakes for the children at Corner Stone Community Outreach homeless shelter here in chicago, she’s been doing it for three years now. She loves to bake and we were eating it all. When I saw their post about need for baking supplies, I asked if she could bring them baked and decorated. They accepted. She gets a weekly email with the dates, names, and ages, boy or girl.
    Three years ago when she started the grocery store manager saw us with 2 cart fulls of baking supplies and asked what kind of a party we’re having. He was so touched, his company has been donating the supplies for three years.

    We go every couple of days to deliver the cakes. God, the stories. I cannot tell you how tempted I am to take pictures. But I can’t, I just can’t. So sacred, like you said.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Powerful…as always.

    “little puppy breaths.”

    NYC is a place that will always grab you…and leave you wondering what, if anything, to DO about the poor and desperate among us.

    I was in Venice on my trip and there was a beggar, literally, outside the Prada store. It was unbearable…and that is the reality of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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