Mid-February, I went to the Mindfulness Care Center’s monthly grief and loss support group. The first time I went was months prior, and I found it very helpful, ditto on the more recent occasion. It’s such a balm to be among people who are speaking in a very sincere manner, straight from their hearts and from the depths of their most profound feelings, and to be able to do the same myself and feel completely safe and comfortable. My partner for the evening’s dyad exercise was a woman who is a member of Howie’s sangha. I’d never spoken with her before, and she proved to be just the loveliest, kindest person. I experience very little sorrow about Carlos these days, with very few tears, but I still fairly often feel a mild shock and disbelief that he isn’t here.
Seen at the soup kitchen: a pit bull in a tight, slightly torn wife-beater undershirt. I know we’re not supposed to think of pit bulls as menacing, but this one really did look like someone to avoid.
While I was at the laundromat, a homeless woman came in and sat at the little table and watched with interest as I folded 26 navy t-shirts. “You like dark colors,” she observed, adding, “Well, at least you know you’re not wearing the same shirt every day.” It had actually never occurred to me that people thought I was wearing the same t-shirt every day.
Then we discussed hair. She asked if I ever braid mine—it’s not long enough—and said that she has always had layers and just recently let her hair grow out long enough to pull back into a ponytail. I told her it looked nice: “It shows off your face, and then you have the nice ponytail in back.” She beamed at that.
At times, she mumbled rather incoherently, but I could tell she was saying something about needing $13.95 more in order to be able to sleep in a shelter. I told her she was welcome to whatever quarters I had left over after my 11 loads of laundry and two trips to the laundromat. That turned out to be only $2.25 and she thanked me for it, but started to cry, saying as if to herself, “Where will I go?”
At home, soft touch that I am, I fetched a $20 bill and went back to the laundromat and gave it to her. She was pleased and moved and said, “Can I have a hug? I don’t bite.” I gave her a warm hug, as the executive director at the soup kitchen freely gives his guests. It’s interesting how right after you give someone a generous gift, they also want a hug, but it’s because being treated kindly touches our hearts and reminds us that what we all really want is love.
One of Hammett’s high-spirited activities is to hop up on the kitchen counter near the sink and sit down, right where I often set food down. I usually nudge him off the counter (and then feel like a jerk, because he clearly would prefer to sit there) or, in a more tolerant mood, pick him up and set him on the floor, which sometimes has to be done five times in a row.
One day, I decided to investigate my feeling of annoyance rather than act on it and was going about my business nearby when a tremendous perturbation occurred behind me. I turned to see Hammett attempting to claw his way out of the window above the sink, which was nearly but not quite open enough for this, and either he was standing in the plastic container full of diluted dish soap or landed in it after releasing his hold on the windowsill. In any event, he ended up soaked to the knees in dish soap, which I didn’t want him to ingest while cleaning himself, so then I had to take him into the bathroom and try to run warm water over his hind legs, which action was vigorously and successfully opposed. I put warm water in a plastic bin and set him in it long enough to rinse the soap off, and then dried him as best I could.
After chaplaincy class in March, I had dinner with a classmate, as always, this time at Udupi Palace. When she asked if I’d have dessert, I said, “No, my body is a temple,” and she replied, “My body is a pleasure dome.”
I took a walk with my walking friend. Now and then he has a cup of coffee during our outings, so I asked, “Would you like to stop for a cup of coffee?”, but he said, “No, I’m still releasing my first one,” which struck me as hilarious. We found ourselves down at the Civic Center, where we saw part of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, which featured a tremendous number of police officers (marching) and nearly as many cute children. It was pretty sparsely attended, making it a nice alternative to the Gay Pride parade. We had lunch at Ananda Fuara and then walked back to the Mission and went to sit on a bench at the top of Dolores Park, which was extremely crowded. It was a very warm, sunny day. All told, we spent six pleasant hours together.