Dangerous Compassions


Last night we took R out for dinner for his birthday.  We went to vegan Mexican food.  He liked the chips and his chorizo breakfast burrito.  Ming got an impossible burrito and a Mexican coke.  I got a chorizo breakfast burrito that was so salty I couldn’t finish it.

We talked about how he quit smoking, how I quit smoking, long ago.  Health stuff, my dad’s first heart attack.

“When I quit, I was smoking half-cigarettes,” I said.  “And I said, that’s it.  But I still had some left, so I took the pack and put it in a drawer in my bathroom and just left it there, just in case.  But when I moved, I threw it away.”

The news was playing on a tv.  “Look, the El Cid,” I said.  A shut down downtown hotel had caught fire.  Fifty people were living inside, apparently.  The cop seemed disgusted with them.

“Look, there’s L,” R noted.  A homeless man we know was shown on screen, leaning against a cop car.

“What do you think of squatting?” R asked.

“I think it’s great but I’d never have the guts to do it,” I said.  R seemed satisfied with my answer.

We talked about community roles and our different perspectives on how we relate.  I said J is a mother figure to me though I make a lot of effort for her not to be.  Ming thinks it’s unhealthy for me to feel like she’s a mother figure, but I think it makes sense.  I was telling R how I’m a goddess worshiper and love women and go to women’s groups and am a feminist.  J is only five years older than Ming, but she’s 15 years older than I am.

“It’s very fatherly for you to think that,” R said to Ming.

We held hands and prayed.  I asked the mother of God to bless R and bless his year, to help us be good to him and support him in what he needs.

We gave him a birthday present, this candle holder he liked from Happy Earth Market with a little dreamcatcher in it.  He blew into it and dust came out, so much dust it looked like smoke.

Then we drove back to Bartlett and went to Freedom House so R could play guitar for us.  “Can I play your guitar?” he asked me, and I said why not.  We sat together in the living room with just the glow of the white Christmas lights.  I was cold, so R got a heater and a blanket.

“Any requests?” he asked.  I asked him to play Red second.  Red is my favorite.  I asked him to play the capitalism song.  “Which one’s that?” he asked.  I said Sail.

So he played, and I sang along when I knew the words.  I know all the words of Red, my favorite song, and sometimes we were singing so loud, we were shouting, but still Ming slept beside me on the couch.

R went through most of his repertoire.  Oh, when he was tuning I told him a story.  He was so distracted he couldn’t tune as he listened to me.

Should have taken a picture–sorry.

This morning R leaves for Mexico.  I told him to be safe.  I wonder if he’ll find what he thinks he’ll find, at the border.  He is brown but hopefully his passport will work.

Earlier yesterday, at Catholic Worker Christmas, I was given a Gandhi pen and some homemade prayer cards I can send to all my penpals with my address on them.  They depict and describe Ganesh and Sarasvati.  I was so moved, I hugged my secret santa G.  He let me.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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