Recently, I have been noticing a homeless person as I walk to college
I could not tell if the homeless person is the same each time, or the gender of this person
Perhaps with all the clutter of belongings that surrounds, its unclear
Though its probably because I did not care to notice
 
However this morning I was feeling like shit
With barely any sleep, finally I arrived at Atlantic terminal at 6 A.M
I then bought my morning coffee and instantly I felt better, I needed to treat myself
A cinnamon dulce latte indulged me
 
After brightening my morning and alleviating the morning ache of a 3:45 alarm
I went on my way to relax and read at the library in Flatbush
However today is a different day
I saw a human on the ground
Probably cold
And alone
And me and all my privilege, I could treat myself to a $5.75 coffee
This woman whether she has a bad headache or not, is unable to enjoy this remedy
 
As planned I walked past the Target, and the homeless person
My destination is not here, not yet
I want them to feel the relief I felt on this cold winter oppressive day
I buy hot chocolate, which is universally loved
A bagel and cream cheese, a typical new york breakfast
Munchkins, a cinnamon roll, and a vanilla iced donut
To someone who is on the cold cement
It takes a little extra,
Or maybe, one donut could have sufficed
Because people on the street, they appreciate anything
And remember everything
 
Now, how do I know that?
Well I assumed it at the time
But today is a different day
Today I have poof, I now know this is true
And you will see why
 
When I approached the Target I nearly walked by and talked my way out of it
What if this person rejects me?
What if they get mad (its 6:30 A.M, after all)
No matter I decide, I am willing to take this risk
I kneel beside, and notice the homeless person is a woman
“Good morning mam, I brought you some breakfast”
 
This woman, who has no name for the moment, looks up at me
She’s not scary, offended, or standoffish
She greets me as an old friend
I tell her what I brought, and warn her not to let the hot chocolate get cold
And of course she thanks me, not vulgarly, but in the same way an old friend would offer appreciation
 
Instantly she opens up to me
Were this to be in a different context, such as a random meeting with a non-homeless person
I would have found it off putting
But coming from a homeless person, who you assume surely has pain
And given the vulnerability of approaching someone you don’t know,
It doesn’t feel foreign and alarming
 
I sit down from my kneeling position
I join her on the sidewalk
Indeed, it is cold
I ask her for her name, she says “Sally,” I tell her mine, “Hannah”
She tells me why she is homeless, though I did not ask
Someone robbed $6,000 from her, expelled her from the apartment illegally
I begin to believe her
And then I don’t
She tells me she has a picture of the man who robbed money from her
She asks me if I’m a journalist, if I can tell her story
“I am, sure I can,” I say, partly with disingenuity
 
Though I know her story is slightly if not all delusional
What must that feel like to live that reality?
To have $6,000 dollars stolen from you, leaving you on the street
Being expelled from your apartment
Police don’t listen to you, “they didn’t even file a police report,” she says
Does it matter what is true or what is not? There is a human being suffering, ignored
I ask her “How do you deal with it all?”
She responds “I’m a survivor,” with a smile etched on her face
 
I begin to think that this is perhaps the most genuine conversation I have had with someone in a while
I begin to think that this is perhaps the most genuine conversation I have had with someone in a while
Though you may think I was being duplicitous by engaging and asking about a story which I believed untrue
I believe that she believes what she is telling over to me
And so I listen,
I am careful not to apologize “I’m sorry you have to…”
Rather I’ve learned to acknowledge and state the state of being
“You’re a survivor” I say
Which I believe to be true
 
At some point the conversation turns to oddity
At some point the conversation turns to oddity
She states “I think I met you a few months ago”
I say, “oh really,” intrigued, and of course, in disbelief
Perhaps she has mistaken me for someone else
She confirms that she remembers, I bought her something
She remembers that I was nice to her
This jogs my memory
 
Then I remembered, “Sally!”
I remember meeting her outside of Brooklyn College
This is vague at first as I try to recall it
Then I look at her, and remember more clearly
When I met Sally, she made me smile
She told me her story then too, someone stealing money
Getting evicted, the police unhelpful
She told me then, no one believes her
Her story hasn’t changed by any detail
 
Though Sally is mistaken on when we met
We actually met about two and a half years prior when I was enrolled in Spring 2014
I remembered this, because I happened to have skipped class that day
It was a Wednesday, later in the afternoon when I had American Pluralism
I remember this because we left on saying ‘well see each other again,’
No pressure, she ventures to the area occasionally, I’m there on Wednesdays…
We never saw each other again
Until now
 
What can one say about such an encounter?
I met Sally post-injury from an accident
This had been a very isolating and emotionally voiding experience
Which happens to be the reason I wasn’t in class on that Wednesday
I sought out human interaction, and Sally was out there on that day to offer it
I had left after Spring 2014
I have found my footing since then, I am back in college, 
And I encounter Sally yet again,
But she is in the same situation as two years ago…
 
…Now I remember something else
This will challenge what I have just alluded to about being the “kind one
Essentially all I did that day is engage with a Brooklyn pedestrian
This is odd to recall, I actually opened up to Sally on that day
After someone offended me, and I had no one to talk to
Sally told me, don’t let people effect you and mistreat you
She told me I was beautiful and deserved better
I spoke to Sally about !#@$$@#@#%#%#%#@%
Because I was heartbroken at the time
Sally gave to me that day
She encouraged a downtrodden person that day
She healed a broken person that day
With all she had to give, she delivered it perfectly, to me
And here we are again, seeing each other again in the crack of dawn on Flatbush Avenue
 
How does one end story like this?
Everything about it screams that it needs a proper ending, an explanation
An offering of meaning
Yet I think the story itself speaks
What is kindness? And who can offer it? Is there anyone who can’t?
What is the meaning of a stellar memory, yet a delusional one?
Where is the fairness?
Where does survivalism come from?
Does it come from delusion? Or rather the ability to smile
To greet a stranger without coldness
To set aside ones problems in sympathy and consideration for someone else’s
Because were all human beings after all
We all bleed the same way
We also can be saved the same way
 
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