West Side Story

I went to the underbelly of my city yesterday….sort of like every city’s west side…

I noticed the run-down houses, the graffiti, the old cars -parked behind crumbling brick buildings- that looked like someone’s sleeping arrangements.

I saw the “tent city” of the homeless.

I waited and paused because I wanted to experience how it made me feel, in contrast to a few years ago, when I probably wouldn’t have advocated for the downtrodden as much- with regards to addiction and homelessness. The last 3 years of having a front row seat to the thirsty fangs of addiction had exposed me to things I would have preferred to never see.
I wanted to feel if I still had judgment for them after that.

As I looked at this car behind McDonald’s with a guy advertising to clean headlights for the drive-thru customers, I felt it. The judgment. The pity. I felt shame for him.
I also saw my son in him.
The scavenging.
The desperation.
The living 15 minutes at a time.

Except for my son probably would have too much pride to do that. He would just starve…or steal a candy bar, as much as I hate to admit it.

I wanted to just give the guy $10.

But my old judgemental person said, “you know what he’ll do with it.”
My new heart-broken, marinated in-all-things addiction Mama said, “it doesn’t matter what he does with it. It’s about compassion. It’s about showing that someone cares”.

The moment to act was gone as we moved further down the street.
I saw a lady, by a car loaded full of bags and clothes. She had on an old halter top and shorts. A guy with a dirty backpack came up & spoke with her. What were they planning? A score? A hit? Or just a hamburger?

My eyes stung with what? Tear’s of desperation? Of that feeling that no one has your back? No one cares. People back away from you or avoid you? What does that do to an already shattered soul?

I noticed that they still scared me. I doubt I would dare approach any of them.

I was NO different than all the other people-in- a- hurry in their shiny black or gray cars with tinted windows. Windows meant to keep out the UV rays AND shade us from scenes such as this.

They were the street people. They knew this game. Some live it by choice, some by circumstance. I know because I’m part of a local facebook recovery group, where people post about needing to move their car somewhere else because a business kicked them out.
I also follow my state’s unhoused group of volunteers who help feed them.

I should do more.
I’m still in save-my-own-son survival mode which takes up most of my emotional energy.

My son doesn’t live in this area but this is his people now.
It still stings. I’m still trying to help him NOT
“вє тнσѕє ρєσρℓє”

I want him back….
Into the working class.

With a lawn of green lush grass bordering all the way around a- white-plank-siding- and-slate- stone-veneer halfway up the bottom- house.

With kids and dogs running around.

But what I want, and what’s reality is a pretty long stretch.

All I can do is,

ℓσνє нιм ωнєяє нє’ѕ αт.

And where he’s at, is in jail.

He’s a bit quiet now but hopeful.
He’s back into his lifting weights routine- doing the daily survival that’s necessary when living in close quarters to 70 other struggling males.

He’s agreed to rehab while they are preparing his sentencing. He wants to live in a different area if he doesn’t get a long sentence. That’s huge.
I’m hopeful but realistic.

I do what I can.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll go back and have my headlights cleaned.

ℓσνє αℓωαуѕ ωιиѕ

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Samantha Waters

A unique perspective on the world from a small town girl turned big city nurse. Now a grandmother to 6 gregarious, resplendent boys and 5 endearing, magical girls, she strives the make the world a more understanding, pleasant place to experience this intense thing called life.

3 thoughts on “West Side Story”

  1. beautiful!! just like you!!!

    “Fear is playing God by trying

    to control the future.” Helen Joy Davidman Gresham

    “In His will is our peace.” – Dante’s Divine Comedy


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