This might just have been my favourite D29 so far - absolutely amazing on both the giving and receiving fronts.
This morning started out like every Monday: I forced myself to get up, in order to take muffins and scones to the soup kitchen. I also indulged in turning on the heat (something I've been reluctant to do) while I showered. The apartment was 49 degrees, and while I can bundle up and/or dive under the comforter, I just couldn't bear getting out of the shower in that chill!
As I walked, I tried to figure out what I could do that would be different. I knew I wanted to keep stretching, but spontaneous opportunities are few and far between when one lives and works (or doesn't!) alone. Our city has a marina where fishing boats come in (and in the summer, yachts). There's a small laundromat for boaters, and outside it are a few vending machines - two for soda and one for snacks/candy/detergent/toothpaste. I don't think I've ever seen anyone use any of them. Nonetheless, I dug in my wallet and found four quarters and a dollar coin. I put the four quarters into the snack machine - noting that the Rice Krispie bar had been sitting there so long, the sun had completely bleached all the graphics from its wrapper. Yikes. (No idea when the machine was last refilled, either...)
Then I had the loonie left. I wanted to put it somewhere different, so I went to a walkway above the waterfront shops. I was going to leave it there, but I noticed a homeless man in his 60s sitting there. I've seen this man around, but I've never spoken to him. I asked if I could give him the loonie. He took it and said (not in a pushy way), "I need another one to get dinner at Sally Ann" (Salvation Army). I told him I knew that, but I didn't have another one. I did, however, have a protein bar, and would he like that? He said sure (at which point, I mentally did a quick tooth-check - one thing I've learned in giving food to homeless people is to err on the side of soft food, because many of them are missing teeth). He had a full set of teeth, which was good, because I was pretty sure the protein bar was a tough chew. I sat down next to him, and I checked my wallet, and there - I swear it hadn't been there before - was a toonie (two dollar coin). I gave it to him without a second thought. His face broke into a grin, and he said, "I can have dinner tonight!" I kept rifling through my bag, looking for the protein bar, when I remembered that I'd taken it out (because nobody seemed to want it). I apologized to him and jokingly offered him a packet of mayonnaise. "Miracle Whip?" he asked, sounding hopeful. "Hellmans," I replied, with an apologetic look. He launched into a description of his favourite sandwich from the deli: Bavarian spiced meat, with mayonnaise (or maybe it was Miracle Whip) and salt and pepper on a bun. His eyes were dancing just at the thought of this meal.
He said his name was Paul, and I shook his hand and introduced myself. We talked for a bit about his challenges staying warm and dry, but he had a good heavy coat - at least that helps with the first issue. He clearly had a great sense of humour. After a while, I stood up and wished him a good day.
Before running into him, I'd been debating whether to treat myself to a sandwich. I was hungry, yet I hesitated to spend the money. Now, though, I knew I had to go to the grocery store deli and buy him a sandwich - as close to Bavarian meat (whatever that is) as I could find. As I walked, many thoughts went through my head: This is crazy. This is 10% of everything I have left. I thought about what the community cop had said about word getting around, and how I might become a mark (well, they can't take what I don't have). Yet I couldn't get the sparkle in his eye out of my mind, and I kept remembering the story from the book, about Cami giving tacos to a homeless man with AIDS. I thought of what my sister might say, "You've done enough." Rationally, logically, what I did made no sense. But I knew I had to do it. I went to the grocery store, and the closest thing they had was some kind of spicy Italian meat sandwich with cheese and some kind of spread. My geography skills aren't stellar, but I know that Italy and Bavaria aren't exactly next door to each other; I wondered if the "spicy" part would be enough. I wondered what I'd do if he'd moved by the time I bought it, yet somehow, I knew that if I did buy it, he'd still be there (kind of like a deli version of Field of Dreams). I debated buying a type of sandwich that I would actually like - in case he wasn't there - y'know, like turkey with cranberry. But my gut kept saying, "No, get the kind he wants." So I bought it - with a bit of a gulp - and asked them to grill it, and I took it back to him. The whole thing took about 20 minutes. He thanked me and dove into it... and I left.
I felt expanded in a way I haven't in a long time (and in the way I believe giving is supposed to make you feel - that open-hearted joyful feeling). Even though it was more than I could afford, really, I knew I was meant to be doing it. And I knew something good was going to happen. It wasn't a feeling of bartering ("Okay, I'll give this and I'd better get something") but just an intuitive knowledge that... something would happen. I wasn't sure in which area of my life, but I had a feeling...
I just hadn't counted on how fast it might happen. Not ten minutes later, I received an email from the woman who shared her windfall with me a couple of months ago. She knows what's been going on in my life, and despite my insistence that I couldn't accept any more from her (except friendship), she offered to send me a set amount each month for the next six months - an amount that totals 16% of my monthly expenses and could help significantly with my Financial Situation until I'm back on my feet. We call them miracles or magic because we have no way of logically explaining how these things happen, yet I'm convinced that there is a cause-and-effect principle at work. I haven't said yes to her (yet), though I hardly feel in a position to decline. I'm ambivalent, because she's a new friend who I value deeply, and I don't want to jeopardize the friendship... yet I also believe she can do this without it impacting her quality of life or savings. But just the timing of her email made me grin ear to ear (and I have a wide face!).
There's still lots I need to catch up on. This morning, my last pair of jeans finally tore to the point of obscenity. I can get them repaired again, but even so, that's only buying them a couple of months. Hopefully, though, in a couple of months, things will be flowing again. Today, I believe good things will happen. I believe in the power of giving...and in giving more than I think I can.
I hope you all had wonderful Mondays! Cheers!