Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In line

In line
they stand

waiting

always waiting

for a hand out
hand up
hand off.

Some days it appears
there's no end in line
to the line-up
of those whose lives
are spent
standing
in line.


Yesterday, a man walked into my office, took a chair across from my desk and said, "Hi. I've been wanting to talk to you for quite some time."

I was working on a proposal. Trying to get the draft finished before I took off for the airport to pick up my youngest daughter who was returning from Europe. I didn't want an interruption. Didn't have time.

I smiled. Took a breath. Removed my fingers from the keyboard where they had waited, poised to continue typing.

"What's up?"

I've known this man for quite some time. He was a former client. Took part in Project Forward, a lifeskills/money management course I teach in Tuesday nights at the shelter where I work.

"I'm doing great," he said. "Really great." And he gave me a toothy smile. Big. Broad. Real.

I peered more closely at his face. He did look great. There was a brightness to his eyes I hadn't seen before. The lines etched into his skin appeared to be less ridged, deep, tight.

"You look great," I told him. "What's been happening."

"Well...." and he launched into a story of going east to visit his family. Of 'coming clean' to them about his life, his journey into addiction and homelessness and lying to himself and everyone around him.

"I haven't had contact with my family for ten years," he said. "Now I talk to them every week."

"What's changed?" I asked.

"I quit lying. I quit having to hide. I told them the truth and they still love me. Hell," he laughed. "I still love me."

He wants to come in and do a video-story. He wants to share his story to help others find their new story, to help others understand how people can become trapped in their story.

"This place has done so much for me," he said. "I want to give back. And, I want to thank you for all you've done to help me along the way. Some of that stuff you said, it's true. You really do gotta forgive yourself and quit lying to yourself about what you've done, what you're doing. I had no idea how much shame I was carrying. And really, what do I have to be ashamed of? I did some stupid, ridiculous things. I hurt people but I never set out to do it. and lying was keeping me stuck in doing it again and again. I just feel really good these days."

And he smiled again, stood up.

"Can I give you a hug?" I asked.

He put the papers he was carrying on my desk and said, "Yes. Hugs are great!"

And they are.

And taking the time to hear someone's story is great too.

and after he left, I still had time to finish my proposal before leaving for the airport.

Both my daughters are home now.

All is well with my world.

All is aligned.

The poem at the beginning of this post was inspired by Maureen @ Writing Without Paper who wrote a poem -- Learning to Communicate -- which I think is quite brilliant! She's participating in Carry On Tuesday -- a bi-weekly event where you're provided a line from a poem and then carry on by writing a poem where that line appears. This week's prompt comes from the first words of the famous Frank and Nancy Sinatra song Something Stupid (1967): "I know I stand in line . . . ."

3 comments:

Maureen said...

I like your poem and the the fact that you made time, as you always do, for someone to say hello and thank you.

Anonymous said...

someone said (OK, many have said), 'I don't have all day' ....but then, what else do we have ...

making time, taking time .. making out . . .

you get the picture

time well spent or well wasted is time used .... spent and never ever recovered so we might as well use every minute we have

all things, as in nature, will get done ...

Mark

n. davis rosback said...

i know i stand in line
holding a number in my hand
but the smell draws me in
everytime
it is so hard to resist
when one lives
above a bakery