Thursday, December 6, 2012

Watching her go down the street, I felt sad

I return a phone call and soon a young man named Hakim has arrived in my office with a late request to set up a holding area for a new movie, the Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese with Leonardo de Caprio and Matthew McConaghy. And understanding how these things work, none of them will be showing up here. BUT, it’s a great opportunity and despite the confusion it will create tomorrow night, I jump on it and we quickly reach an agreement. Now just to let Danielle and Teddy know.
Rachelle is roaming the church. This is her deadline for getting things out of here. She brings Magdala, a woman from the neighborhood, and her mother from Spain, into my office. They would like a tour, so I give them the architectural and social history talk. Magdala’s mom asks, Quando tiene misas? and I answer, los Domingos a las once. I tell them about our Purisima celebration coming on Friday night and they thank me and are gone. I hope she returns for nuestra misa. 
Martin and I meet to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. Much is riding on this. He tells me to just relax. As if.
Late in the afternoon, there’s a man I haven’t seen before settling down on the steps. Fairly tall, looks possibly Latino. I open a conversation. His accent sounds Native American. Name is William. Another veteran whose benefits have changed in such a way that he has just been evicted from Capital Hall. I explain the rules. Asks if he’s got a plan. He seems to have an idea when and where to go. We shake hands, and as I turn to go  back inside, he  says, thanks very much for asking...
Rachelle has worked long hours. Taken all her things out out and looked at them all, repacking everything very carefully even though there is very little of value. It’s time. These things can’t stay in the sanctuary where she keeps bringing them back. She had stuff sprawling all over the exit hallway. Dangerous. Fire hazard. She asks if Jay can come help her. He’s the only one she trusts.
She keeps making trips down the street, I’m not sure where. She puts her last shopping carts,strollers and suitcases out on 86th and drags them two at a time somewhere. When I see her pulling her last two carts behind her, heading east, for  some unexplainable reason I felt sad. 
She was once a professor living on the east side. She could not admit she was homeless, now she’s embarrassed to say she lives at Capital Hall. Nor did she ever like to admit these were her collected things, gathered from the street. People gave me things to help people, she said. Always sees herself as an angel of mercy. How much reality is she aware of at any moment? I don’t know. Yes, watching her go down the street, I felt sad.

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