Saturday January 30th feels more like June 30th. I pick up Henry around 9:30 and we drive around downtown San Diego looking for a place to eat breakfast. He’s been mentioning biscuits and gravy almost daily so I figure why not? However, where we eat will be based on where we can find parking. The International House of Pancakes Express it is…who knew they had an express location?
On his own accord Henry asked the manager if they were hiring and could he please fill out an application. When told they weren’t he said, “Well you may find that you need me so I’ll fill one out just in case.” Good answer buddy.
Henry and I are so similar and vastly different. Where I often look at people and situations and imagine what “their story” might be in my head Henry will state it as if it’s fact. It’s pretty funny and very eye opening to hear what runs through his mind in these instances. As a homeless woman walked by our window Henry just casually says, “When I’m rich I’m going to feed people like her.” He went on to say that he believes she has a family who don’t know where she is or what her life has turned out to be like. In this moment I can’t help but think of Henry’s family and ask if they are on his mind.
“My dad is always on my mind. He was my hero and best friend. My brother Paul and I talk sometimes when I have a phone or money to call. I talked to him this week, he’s doing ok.” Wait, what??? I have learned that when Henry is talking casually about personal things regarding his past that I need to just sit back and let him continue with his story. If I ask too many questions he either gets thrown off track or realizes what is happening and often changes the subject, and he even asks “Did you like how I changed that subject?” Sitting back and listening has always been my thing, I like other people’s stories more than my own but sometimes I want to know more and it isn’t shared.
We had our Be Kind To One Another journals with us and I asked Henry if he felt like writing in his. The restaurant wasn’t very busy and I had put plenty of change in the meter so I thought it might be nice to just hang out for a while. He told me that when he thinks about the things that he wants to write down that it makes him cry and today he didn’t even feel like crying happy tears.
Instead he told me what he’s been able to do with the bike that he bought for $10. He’s been sanding it down in his room so one day he can paint it a prettier color and hopefully put a seat and motor on it so getting up the hills in downtown won’t be so bad. I saw the bike one day…it needs a bit more than a paint job and a new seat however he enjoys working on that at night while watching tv so I don’t question it.
Henry has stated a few times that he does want to get into better shape and needs to lose some weight so I suggested we go to Ralph’s and buy some groceries instead of him eating at McDonald’s all of the time. He seemed to like that idea so we wandered around the grocery store filling up a shopping cart. “This is fun because it’s a normal thing that normal people do with their friends” Henry proclaimed rather loudly. When a cute young couple looked his way he just smiled and said, “My friend Kari is making sure that I eat better”, while grabbing two jars of gravy…I’m not sure they thought I was doing a very good job.
When I grabbed a can of beef stew Henry took it out of the basket and just said, “Now Kari, that one can cost $2.49 when we can just get beans for .99 a piece. Two cans of beans makes more sense than that stew you just grabbed.” I just looked at him and asked “Who the fuck wants to eat beans for dinner?” and put the stew back in the cart. Henry hugged me and said “I love you Kari” while laughing. (I generally don’t use that word, the F word)
I realize that we’re a bit behind the eight ball and am constantly wondering how in the world are we going to find Henry a job and housing? The money isn’t going to last forever and I can’t subsides him or myself sometimes for that matter. There is only so much I can do to help Henry and I don’t often know where to begin…many have suggested several avenues, we’ve tried them. Henry isn’t the only guy in San Diego at this moment who is homeless looking for a home and a job. I do know that Henry wants to be able to take care of himself and every time we are together he talks about “when I have a job and an apartment or my own trailer”… I don’t want to see that not come true for him. So today we live for today and work on what we can do to make all of our tomorrows the best day of our lives.
While dropping Henry off at the hotel with 5 bags of groceries he hugs me a little bit longer than he usually does and just says, “If I spent all of our time together saying thank you, I still couldn’t say it enough.” #happytears.