Looking into the grate

Some people step around the grate, some people walk right over it and some stop to peer down to see what’s floating there. Which one are you? I am clearly the one that stops to look.

This morning I was in Camden Maine. 223 miles from my home according to odometer on my car. The trip home took me five and half hours with frequent stops because there are so many things to see.

I had self awareness #____ this morning at 5:10. It was super foggy and still dark. The place I stay could be called rustic or maybe just old with no buildings close to it. Here’s what I realized. I go into abandoned buildings, I wander through cemeteries, walk streets and talk with homeless people and walk old roads without hesitation be it day or night. I hardly ever feel scared. BUT when I get in a car and it’s dark, whether early in the morning or late at night, I lock the doors. I do it at home because it’s usually dark when I go to work and I do it any time I’m alone in a car.  This makes me think that I’d rather get attacked by the crazed killer with the hockey mask outside that have him behind me in the car.

More than half of my ride was blanketed in fog so thick that everything had that surreal feeling of being all alone on the highway. Everything looks different in a foggy haze. I pulled over to take some pictures, the air was thick, heavy. The kind of haze that makes you wonder if you really saw something or if it was a trick of the fog.

While taking a break from driving to go for a walk some interesting things happened. First I went into a park in a port city with a big public bathroom where I met a woman drying her hair. With her she had what I can only imagine were all of her possessions. Clothes and bags and a shopping cart. Her phone was plugged into and outlet charging and while it was clear she was washing up there it also appeared that her situation was new. She didn’t have that look of the street yet.

A little farther on I said good morning to a woman who was drinking a coffee and smoking a cigarette. The coffee was in a mug that apparently she carried from her home nearby to come down to the port. She had no bag or purse or any of the things that meant she was out for the day. We started to talk. In a period of 15 to 20 minutes we walked and talked and learned that we are the same age, we learned about each other’s kids, our parents, our siblings, what we do, she is an artist, and we pondered the big question a lot of women in our situation ponder; what next? What do people around 60 with no plan for a future and none of the security of marriage or 401ks do? There was no “woe is me” or lamenting about the past, just talk. We went past the woman from the bathroom who had set up a little stand with cups of water on a little table so we talked about homelessness. We just talked. It was refreshing. I didn’t learn her name, nor does she know mine but we talked and connected. And then I was back at my car. We wished each other a good day, she headed back to wherever she lives and I got in my car to finish my drive home.

If I hadn’t stopped to take pictures of the old boat by the road, if the fog hadn’t been so thick, if there weren’t two people ahead of me in line  at the gas station, if I hadn’t stopped to say hello to the newly homeless woman I wouldn’t have met her.

Life is funny like that. I left feeling grateful that I am aware of these things. I’m happy that I’m the type that stops to peer into the grate.


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