Faydra lowers the car window and chilly air whooshes in. The temp last night was in the low 20s. Pretty cold for Atlanta. She reaches behind the front seat of her partner’s brand new Subaru Forester and grabs one of the several ziplock freezer bags on the floor in back. It’s stuffed with gloves, two pairs of socks, a knit hat, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, and several Nutri-Grain bars. She stops the SUV and reaches out of the window, handing the bag to a homeless man on the corner holding a please help sign. He thanks her.
“He’ll appreciate those warm socks more than a few dollars,” she says to me.
Faydra has a big heart. She volunteers. Delivers for Meals on Wheels. She’s been an Airbnb host for years now and takes her guests on private tours around Atlanta, providing them with maps to all the cool places. She makes sure they have everything they need to make their stay A-plus. When she hosts, she really hosts.
Out and about daily, she hands out lots of ziplock bags to people on corners with signs asking for help.
Me? I work from home. I don’t encounter many homeless people in my area. But if I did, I would so carry ziplock bags like Faydra does. With the essentials stuffed inside. It’s such a fine thing to do. She’s one of the good guys. That’s why she’s my bestie.
We’re not churchgoers. A church would probably explode if I stepped foot in it. But she and I share a natural spirituality that fuels many of our discussions. Don’t twist it now. We talk about silly things, too. All day long. But today we talk about giving to others. How right it is, as blessed as we’ve been, to help those less fortunate. And how that good karma always comes back.
I tell her how quickly my karma seems to comes back on me. Always. It’s worked that way all my life. At least, since I began to take notice of such things. Good and bad karma. It always comes back to me really fast.
I don’t do bad things. I think about it but I don’t indulge that side of myself. I’ve been known to say some nasty shit, though. You know how your mouth jumps ahead of your brain and foulness spews forth before you can catch it?
Sometimes before the last ugly word has even cleared my lips I’ve stubbed, tripped over, burned or dropped something on my big toe. Judgement for me, whether it’s reward or punishment, happens fast. I’ve always considered that a good thing.
Faydra told me about We Suki Suki in East Atlanta a couple of weeks ago so we go there for lunch. I’m not familiar with poke burri and choose a crab burrito for my initiation. Crab salad, cabbage, lettuce, cukes, avocado, eel sauce, wrapped in seaweed, I like all of that so this should be good. And it is. I only eat half of the burrito though, wrap the remainder in paper and house it in a neat little carton. I’ll knock off the other half after I get home. I know hubby won’t want any of it. The avocado and eel sauce will turn him off. It’s gonna be mine all mine. Yummy yummy.
Outside the eatery a homeless sister wearing a bright magenta hairpiece sits on a bench. She asks for food. I hesitate only slightly before handing over the little carton containing the other half of my crab burrito. I know she’s planted herself there to get the leftovers. I know she probably stole the cheap hair-piece from a beauty supply store. But girlfriend is on the street. How can I deny her?
Faydra and I are still chuckling over the crazy way life works when we step into Kaboodle. It’s a funky resale/retro boutique that I’ve heard about and the last place I should be after getting jacked up at the dentist just a few hours earlier. My bill was more than I anticipated so poking around Kaboodle now is not a good idea. And dammit. There it is. My kryptonite. A lovely crepe duster, fully lined and bursting with color. I’m weak and make the purchase. But I beat myself up about it all the way home.
A card from my cousin in New Orleans has arrived in the mail. Bless her heart. Her mother, my last surviving aunt, passed away just a few weeks ago and I assume that this is her belated holiday greeting card. A valiant attempt at some normalcy after the most important woman in her life has died.
But when I open the envelope it’s not a holiday card at all. It’s a thank you card. I helped in the preparations for the memorial service by selecting the photograph used for the program and designing a prayer card as well. The last thing I expected was payment. But Cuz has slipped a sweet little check inside. “A small token” she calls it.
It’s enough to cover the new duster I purchased, with a little something left over.
It took maybe five seconds to realize that this is my reward. I gave up my much anticipated crab burrito to the homeless woman with the magenta hair. And like I told Faydra, my karma comes back quickly. I call her right away and tell her about the check. We marvel over it for five whole minutes.
I know how silly this sounds to some people. Punishment and reward from some mysterious energy — invisible and untouchable. But I’m not asking you to accept it any more than I feel a need to explain it. For me and many others, it just is.