His name was Harris.
When I initially drove past him, I thought he was dead, but I realized that there was no way, in this fancy Downtown area, would anyone leave a dead man lying in the shade on a corner. Someone would have surely seen him and called for help. But given the recent killings of unarmed black men I could not be sure.
My iPhone read ninety-seven degrees outside, so maybe he was just hot and laid down, maybe he just needed some water. That’s it! He needs some water. As I got off the elevator, my fearful inner voice spoke, “what if he tries to attack you, touch you, or worse?”
"What if he tries to follow you home?" My mind performed laps, but I remembered that there's no place for fear in the midst of love.
As I approached the shaded corner where he laid I could see that he was emaciated, his bones clung to him as a wet t-shirt clings to a dry body, his belt undone, his feet were scarred and had several bruises on them. He had shoes, but those too looked tattered as they sat next to him. He laid flat on his back with his legs sprawled out. Harris, I would later learn of his name on my second trip, had not moved an inch.
“Sir, I brought you some water, sir.”
He looked at me annoyed that I would wake him from such a peaceful sleep.
“Sir, I brought you some water," I repeated.
He did not move, only opened his eyes to look at me and nodded that he understood. I placed the water down and walked away. As I walked, I thought of his life and how he had ended up here. Who was he?
I opened the door to my apartment, and it hit me, he could use some of the beans and rice I made for my husband and I the night before. I think I seasoned them pretty well and eating beans, even just a little, filled me up. We, vegetarians eat a lot of beans.
After warming up the beans and rice, I scribbled ‘JESUS LOVES YOU” on a note card from my desk and marched back to my new friend.
“Sir, I brought you some food, sir.”
He opened his eyes a bit and rolled his head over to the other side.
He looked in bad shape, and I was not sure what to do. I could stand there and continue to call out to him, but a thought crossed my mind to say a prayer for him. I thanked Jesus for giving Harris the strength to live. I thanked Jesus for his protection over him.
As I completed my prayer, Harris sat upright. His eyes were yellow, and he said that he was so thirsty. I motioned to the water, “look, I brought you some water!”
“It's so hot out here, that may help.”
Harris reached for the water and because he could not pull the cap off with his hands, and protested my help, he used his teeth. I asked him what his name was and told him mine. He said, “My name is Harris.” I heard Aaron at first and said, “my brother’s name is Aaron!”
“Not Aaron, H-A-R-R-I-S,” he shouted with a smile.
“I brought you some beans and rice. My husband likes them, and he says that I cook well so maybe you may like them.”
Harris tried to rip the container open. I grabbed his hand and helped him pop the sides off the lid off. He grabbed the fork I placed in the bag. “Ohhh, this is good. You know I’m black and black people love beans and rice.” Harris enjoyed my cooking, maybe more than my husband.
Harris and I spoke a few more minutes, and I told him to take care of himself, shook his hand gently and walked away. Before I made it to the corner, I turned around and waved bye to Harris, he waved back and shouted, “bye A-R-L-I-N-A.”
Even he missed the "E" in my name. At least he enjoyed my cooking.
This piece was orginally posted on July 12, 2016
The kids, not knowing what to do or why a day with dad ended up in a Starbucks with him scrolling through Instagram as they took in the coffee shop's patrons. He unintentionally, yet intentionally creating space between him and his children. They tap, prod, whine, beg to leave the place filled with a strange bean aroma.
Their mother probably needed a day to herself not knowing that the kids would go without supervision for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The man she created these children with would be there and not there at the same time.
I wonder does she know her husband spends his mental free time on social sites spying? First, it was a photo of a fancy digital camera, then a woman posing in front of the camera. He smirks. Then, it's the woman who owns the camera smiling with her small gray-haired dog. He scrolls. Another photo of her on the beach, in the water, laughing. He thinks about her and possibly the beach. A moment on the beach with her? No, that would be taking it too far. He, of course, has more "self-control" than that. The man, the father of three, hits the back button to pursue other eye candy.
Do you think we do it on purpose? We zone the entire world out to give into our secret desires. Our desires to look, over consume, obsess? Our friends, family, and children simply casualties of war. The war for our attention fought with a small device in the palm of our hands, and we win and lose the battle each day.
The people closest to us stand by, unaware if we are there or not, if we are researching a thought, completing a quick search, or in the midst of our secrets.
Technology, a tool that connects and disconnects has found its way into a day with dad.
Two girls, one boy, a combination any childless home would take in an instant. He is taking that time, those precious moments for granted. It's not until those things we love are gone that we desire to have them back. But those are dog wishes, prayers unheard, for the universe only moves in one direction, forward.
It's what happens when we get what we want. Years without children can dampen the love between two people. But having is not the same thing as not having. We have, and so we desire more or something else altogether.
The plight of being human I guess.
I've been married for one year and four months and let me tell you it has been a bold and emotional experience. Everything about marriage is about leaving yourself behind. If I think about dinner, I think about my husband. If I think about travel, I think about my husband, if I think about my future, I think about my husband. It's all intertwined.
If you marry the right person, marriage is sort-of-like like the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, without the guns and the physical fights. You and your partner are a team. A partnership is important within the union because married life is constant. We sleep under the same roof and therefore are engaged in a physical space daily. The togetherness can be suffocating if you marry the wrong person, trust me. Your partner can either inspire your wildest dreams or push you into a place of loneliness.
My spouse is an introvert. He is always watching and always studying. Today, he found contentment in videos of men debating the Bible. My husband is not interested in showing up at church on Sunday and only taking the pastor's "word for it," he wants to know the truth for himself.
On Saturdays, we venture to a place we call home. Starbucks.
I don't know why we love Starbucks, we met at one, a typical date includes the place, and we spend our free time there. Starbucks is our place away from home, an activity we enjoy. I'm secretly hoping with just enough appearances the place will give us free coffee and tea for life; a girl can dream.
A visit over the weekend reminded me how much I've learned to put my husband before myself. It doesn't happen all the time, but I work towards the daily sacrifice. During this visit, after ordering a venti English Breakfast for him and a green tea for me, the barista handed me both drinks. Hot to the touch, I noticed she forgot his coffee sleeve. You know the brown thing around a hot cup that keeps the hot drink from burning your hand.
As I walked over to the napkin, sugar and stir station to mix honey into his tea and add that organic sugar in the brown package into mine, I gently slide off my cup sleeve and put it on his. I thought to myself that the cup would be too hot for him and as for me, well, I can handle the heat.
He would never know otherwise.
I believe he would do the same for me.
It's no wonder the morning goes by so fast. First an hour, then two. I can't scroll fast enough. The realization has come and gone that I am wasting time, moments, minutes, seconds. But what else am I to do when the addiction that has consumed me has not been diagnosed? Yes, I am still only here for "connecting with high school friends" and keeping my mother updated on my life from afar. I am not to be blamed. It's not my fault. I am only doing what what comes natural: connecting. Who will save me? Who will save us?
History has a way of showing a man exactly who he is; the same can be said for time if they are not considered one in the same.
Over the past several months I have gone back and forth about addressing what I am seeing in the world today against what I believe to be true about the world and time.
History repeats itself.
What we see today we have seen before.
There are no innocent parties, no victims in the brutality that we see in the world.
Still, the truth of these statements do not comfort me. They do not silence the alarms sounding in my head or the voice in my ear telling me not to be afraid, or that now is the time for speaking up not the time for handing the baton off to someone else.
What is a girl to do when the world has grown silent in the face of injustice? When we shelter evil, stating it is our friend, brother, son, or daughter who is misunderstood.
We shelter evil because it is what lies within us all.
What we must remember is what happens when light exposes darkness, darkness can't run and hide for where will it go? What will it cling to once exposed? I see only two choices, either darkness doubles down, or it surrenders but because man has a hard time abandoning his most troubling habits the outcome is the world we live in today.
Darkness running rampant amongst us.