You know how I always find dogs–& a cat once, Josephine, & even a few birds–a crow, some chicks, an owl? Yea, well, today I kind of found a kid, or I nearly tripped over him, I guess. He was parked outside a Chipotle in a black leather jacket & a sign that said “need money for food & blankets”.
I stopped & stared at him. “What are you doing out here?” I asked, as if his answer couldn’t possibly be true. Answers, answers, the wrong answers. “Hm…”, I was thinking, thinking, thinking. “I’ll give you food, but not money,” I said, thinking that’s the trump that blows the kids story for booze money every time.
“What I really need is blankets,” he said. And that was a surprise. This was NOT a kid bumming for a habit. “I can buy you food. What would you like?” A burrito. I gave him money, he went in to Chipotle & I walked on. I strolled around Davis, in need of a day, away. I got coffee, a bagel, went to the thrift, but I kept thinking about this kid. Had I given him enough? Did it cover tax too? Would he be short, get stuck or freak out–all the thing’s I’d do if I were short money–have been short money–so I walked back to look for him, but he was gone.
“Let it go, let it go, let it go,” I told myself. “This is my day–let it go!” I walked. I enjoyed the sun, the spring weather, the students cruising around town, the Davis scene. I heard dogs bark a few times & looked up, like Pavlov’s obedient servant: Zephyr!? Trooper!? No, no, no. They’re home. Breathe, breathe, walk, walk, walk.
I went in a circle because there was the kid, leaning against a garbage can with his sign. “Hey! Did you get your burrito?” I asked. “Yea,” he said, kindly. “Good…so…” Was he alone? Did he know a shelter–yes and no. No to the shelter, “not my place,” he said. I nodded, I got it. I’ve heard that before. “Ok…well…you had dinner, so that’s good. I nodded. I stood there. He looked away. “So, take care,” I said & walked away.
Suddenly, I wanted to be home with the dogs. The dogs I could do. I had done. I am doing; we are doing ok. But I started rummaging through the jeep–I treat it like I’m still on the road–tent, sleeping bag, boots, gear. I only recently took out the stove, and it’s been 14 YEARS since I’ve been out there, sleeping on plateaus, in the woods, under outcrops, outside of towns, behind buildings, in parking lots, and I still don’t unpack, all the way, like I need to be ready, just in case.
I found a couple fleece pullovers–a bit furry, but warm. I drove back, found the kid again. He seemed happy. “Stay warm,” I said, and left for good.
Driving home, stuck on the freeway, I thought I could have brought him home, perhaps. I mean why not? But I thought and thought–then thought rationally–and all this negative stuff overrode my good intentions–grown woman takes in lost minor, etc, etc…nothing good could come of that. And that’s true, and really sad.
I only ever wanted kids for about 5 minutes in my whole life, and those 5 minutes were prompted by being terribly in love with a man who I thought I would love forever–who would love me forever. So, when he didn’t, I let it go, forever. Forever.
BUT, as far back as I can remember, further back the man I was in love with, I have imagined that one day I would find a kid, the same way I find dogs, cats, birds, lost sweaters. It’s just been a given, and a matter of time. I hadn’t thought about that in a while, but I remembered today.
It may not happen–I can barely take care of myself & the dogs, but it could. It might. I would, I think, maybe. Everything, everyone, needs to be found. I believe that. In the right time, I will find, I am finding, I have found you.