Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Young Man, trying to get it right

Happy Young Man "Ruby, hiciste popo?" Yes, Ruby had done number two. No diapers were to be found in the house. "Dear, do you mind going to the store to get diapers, or do you want me to go....Oh, and we need milk too." It was 8:30, no problem. I hop on my bike. I brought Brinca along just because she seemed interested in coming. I'm just a few yards from the driveway when I recognize a somewhat familiar linky shadow. "What's up?" I say to him, as I ride by. "Hey, how are you?" he says back more enthusiastically than I greeted him. Kind of a neighbor, he's a young kid in his early 20s who has been in and out of trouble...drugs, alcohol, petty thieving, fights, several stints in jail. He's never really had a family, but his extended family has tried to help raise him. Ruby's diaper is getting ripe. "I'm heading to the store, gotta get some diapers I tell him." "Can I come along, I'll run." He slurs his words, and as he gets closer the alcohol smell wafts my way. "Sure". I coast along on my bike; Brinca comes up behind him, reminding him that she has nipped at him before.... "i just got out of jail! I'm so happy to be alive, out here with this beautiful weather. My cousin wrote me while I was in jail. That meant so much to me, I can't believe it. How's Ruby doing? Man, it's so good to see you. You know I turned myself in this time. They were going to find me anyway and I got tired of hiding. I'm going to get things turned around." All during this monologue, he's huffin and puffin, and his shorts look like they're about to fall off. "I got some new clothes, too!" I lock my bike up and we cross the street. He's just following my lead on the turns and moves. I tie Brinca up outside the store. He's still going on. He follows me as I go up and down the store aisle. There had to be at least 20 diaper options. 20! It takes me about 10 minutes just to get diapers. In the check out line he asks the young check out girl her name: Jesufina? That name was new to me. "Are you Mexican?" "Orale," he says with complete sincerity since he's trying to pick her up. We head home the same way we came. He talked and jogged, while I listened while coasting on my bike, getting in a word or two of encouragement and God talk every now and again. He and I have had many conversations about God. At one point he says, "I'm not ready to leave this world yet; not yet..." I get back to the house. "Can I borrow your phone?" I go in to get it. I come back out, and he asks if Ruby's awake. When I say she's not, "Can I see a picture? How old is she again? I can't believe she's already two!" He makes his call, a shady deal took place on the line. I show him several pictures after he gets off. He's smiling, paying me complements. He is a sweet kid...terribly lost and lonely. I say goodnight and give him a hug; he really embraces me and tells me how good it is to see me. I welcome his embrace and we hold it for some long seconds. He even kisses my neck which was pretty strange, but I didn't flinch. It made me realize how starved this kid is for any kind of affection, bouncing from place to place; who gives him any love? I can see him turning it around, and I can see him in twenty years having been in and out of rehab programs and jail. I pray he can do the former. I pray I can somehow be a light to him. Please God, help this kid, and help me help him. I should probably mention that tonight we went to the shelter appreciation banquet at First Pres. All us volunteers gave ourselves a pat on the back for another season of accommodating homeless people in a large open room. I wonder if this kid will ever end up as one of the shelter guests? Or he could be a volunteer. I could see either of those scenarios playing out as well.

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