I’m a city girl at heart. I love it all — the noise, the people, the traffic, the panhandlers, everything. It’s like a big, busy painting that I like to hang in my memory. It changes color and shape but each iteration is equally beautiful.
I was walking around Midtown Manhattan recently, drinking in my latest canvas of city life when I came across a really young guy, maybe early 20s, sitting on the pavement with a cardboard sign that read “Need a miracle. Any help will do.” He stared ahead, looking at people’s shins, feet stepping around him. No one stopped, let alone offered him anything. I watched him for a while from the corner. There was such sadness in his face.
I started to walk away, as I almost never give anything directly to folks on the street. I’ve been burned by that gesture before, so I prefer to donate to charities who help the homeless instead of doling out bills on the street. But this kid just haunted me. So fished out some money from my wallet and stuffed it in my pocket and walked toward him. When I got close, he looked up. I said hi, dug into my pocket and handed him the money. He quickly buried it in his own pocket underneath his sign. He thanked me and even smiled a little.
“Why do you need a miracle?” I couldn’t resist asking him.
“They took everything,” he said. “My backpack, my sleeping bag, everything. I gotta get new ones before I can move on.”
I smiled back at him. “Remember to pay it forward when you get back on your feet.”
He nodded. “I’m gonna. Hey, thanks again.”
I am still thinking about him and hoping that he is okay. He’s going to stay in my painting for a while.