Her black t-shirt was bedazzled, rhinestone-esque gems arranged in the outline of a giant safety pin. The jeans on her slim legs were faded but not tattered. She'd taken care in dressing, I thought. Those were probably her nicest clothes; her going-to-work clothes. "Work," of course, is a subjective word in this economy. In her case, it meant a flimsy cardboard sign, hundred-degree weather, and disgusted looks from the drivers of cars unlucky enough to be caught by a red light.
Her hair... most remarkable. It was dark and shiny, with tight curls that fell into place in spite of a distinct lack of styling tools and bottled hair miracles available on the vacant lot she camped on down the street from Mr. Wright's office. That afternoon, she'd pulled it back with an elastic band, but a few ringleted tendrils broke loose, framing her chocolate eyes.
"That could be me," I breathed.
It could. It could be me, or any of my friends, given the entirely worst possible series of events. Suddenly, the fact that my car was in the shop and I was driving a loaner didn't seem so bad. The knowledge that a half-gallon of store brand organic soymilk had replaced the preferred Silk didn't make me wrinkle my nose in dissatisfaction. My babies' generic but perfectly cute and functional wardrobe no longer made me feel like an inadequate mom.
We're doing okay. We have a roof over our heads. There's food in the pantry. My kids may not have the hottest new electronic gizmos, and we're foregoing the satellite television until the market stabilizes, but we're okay.
It's too easy to imagine our roles reversed: me standing at that intersection, the first stoplight after the parking lot exits of both Fred Meyer and Top Foods; her in her SUV, anxious to get home before the frozen vegetables thawed, wondering if she really needed to buy all ten cans of kidney beans just because they were on sale. Would she roll down the window just enough to pass a can through (ensuring the power locks on her doors were activated, of course)? Or would she uneasily squirm in the driver's seat, willing the light to turn green, all too aware that homelessness can happen to anyone?
I can vividly see me, in my best clothes (red and black satin ball gown, strapless), unfolding my cardboard sign...
What dissatisfies you about your home? Faded paint? Awkward kitchen? Dated carpet?
Make a point today of being thankful for it.