He was sitting on the ledge of a stone wall near the entrance to BART.
“How are you doin’ today?”
“I’m well, how are you?” I said as I passed by.
“Good, a little cold over here.” He was sitting in the shade, away from the hot rays of the sun. “Any change?”
I shook my head.”Sorry, I don’t have anything.”
“Have a good day,” he called as I walked away.
When I reached the corner and stopped to wait for the crosswalk signal, I realized I had coins in my change purse. I pulled out some quarters and walked back, sitting beside him and dropping the coins in his cup.
He gave me the two most recent issues of Street Sheet, a newspaper printed by the Coalition on Homelessness and given to homeless people, who then sell it on the street and keep 100% of what they receive.
It was his sixtieth birthday, and he said he was trying to earn enough to buy himself a burrito. I wish I had offered to take him out to dinner, but my mind was focused on getting to the hostel and setting my bags down.
Before I left, he gave me directions to the nearby farmer’s market, where he works two days a week. I hope I run into him again.
They’d created an oasis in the tiny backyard of their Costa Mesa home. Bamboo and greenery softened the harsh boundaries of the fence, and lush plants separated the space, creating a hidden space for a few chairs and a table. A string of lights crisscrossed above us, the baubles lighting up the greenery.
Everybody was warm inside from drinking sake. They were into Japanese culture, so we sipped the warm sweet wine out of a small wooden box, and despite my best efforts, I spilled every single time.
She built a fairy house at the base of one of the plants, a little teepee made of large dry leaves and a few sticks. James found a thin stick with tiny bunches of balls, and handed it to Dave. “Ohhhhh, that’s perfect.”
As the sky darkens, the magic only increases. Organic silhouettes embrace us in peace and serenity. I wrap the warm brown blankets around my shoulders, and Elana perches on Dave’s lap. James brings out a hot kettle and five mugs; we didn’t realize we wanted tea until the exact moment he showed up.
Later, Dave drops his mug, and it breaks on the patio stone beneath him. “Aaaaand my foot is burning.”
But nobody panics at the sound of shattering, there is no stress here. Objects break, it’s the way of life. Here, Dave, we’ll pour you another. The kettle’s still hot.