New Year’s 1991, and my sister and I went to spend the Holiday with my Grandmother in Boston. I spoke a little about that trip here.
But this isn’t about my googly-eyed excitement about meeting my favorite boys band.
In that trip, my grandmother took my sister and I to feed the homeless. Something she did for some time with her local church. I’ve never participated in anything like this and did not know what to expect.
We drive up to the church to prepare before our dinner guests would arrive. People were all aflutter mixing huge pots of various meats, vegetables and desserts. While my sister and I were trying to just stay out-of-the-way.
One thing I didn’t think through while doing this, was my attire. We were supposed to go out after, so I had my new and best clothes that I just received a few days earlier for Christmas. Was “dolled” up in a black sweater, that had a vee cut-out in the front and back. And my shiniest gold jewelry as accessories. What an ass I felt like!
As the guests arrived, I could not believe how many there were. Was saddened at the amount of men, women and children filling their way through the doors of the church basement. While doling out healthy portions on each plate, they were all so thankful and also so friendly. That was not what I was expecting. Wasn’t sure what I was expecting really.
I would strike up short friendly conversations so they could get back to their tables and eat it while still warm. Not all were talkative, and I couldn’t blame them. And I couldn’t help but wonder how each of them got there. Some had Military Fatigues on, so my mind would wonder if they were Veterans. Some had alcohol on their breath, and I wondered if that is what sent them to the streets or if the streets did that to them. They all had a story, they all had family somewhere, yet it was with us they were spending this meal with.
One man stuck out to me since upon looking at him I realized we were around the same age. He had dark hair, head down while going through the line, and was wearing a Boston Bruins Sweater. Since he seemed like the only one in the church who was around my age, it got me to thinking. How can someone only 20 years old end up on the streets. How come no one was looking for him, or were they? Was he abused? Did he graduate high school? Why did he feel the need to have his residence be on the cold winter streets of Boston?
My eyes moved across the room. Some were “happy” and were the conversationalist among their table. Some mothers cut up the food to make sure their kids would get this last warm meal of the night. But the Boy In The Boston Bruins Sweater had his head down the whole time. Eating his food, and not paying any mind of the din in the room.
He finished and came back for more. They all did, knowing the blustery streets of Boston were not fit to live on at night on an empty stomach.
They all thanked us as they began to file out. We cleaned up, and were on our way. In our warm, brand new clothes. To our warm beds.
And as we were driving off, for the last time I saw the Boy In The Bruins Sweater on the street corner with the others. Every so often I think about him. Wonder if he finally made it off the streets. Wonder if he is doing well. And hope that the Sweater and the streets of Boston treated him kindly.