Monday, November 17, 2008

Still I carry all my old delicious burdens

Today, walking back from lunch at Wild Oats, there were two guys begging on the corner. I noticed that they were different than the normal homeless people who usually beg on that corner because their signs were bigger- one seemed to have been made from a washing machine box- and said, "Houseless" instead of "Homeless", as if to state that the situation itself left nothing lacking.

As I passed, the one sitting down called out to me, "Hey! Wanna take me home? I'll do dishes, I'll wash your car, whatever you want." And, as I laughed, he seemed satisfied and turned away. I walked up to them, and noticed that they were only kids- maybe early 20's at best. I asked them what they were doing and they told me they were traveling, that they had come from New York and were on their way to San Francisco. They were happy and light hearted and laughing, complaining about the cold and the fast-approaching snow. It was easy to see that San Francisco was the golden light at the end of the tunnel- the place where everything would be warm and happy and alright, but that they were in no great hurry to get there.

And I wanted to help them. Not for the reason that I would normally give money to a homeless person, out of sorrow, out of incredible sadness. But because something in them embodied a youth that I sometimes feel is slipping silently away from me. A freedom that is lost in the daily grind. The longing that wrenches at me from time to time- for space and open air and no backward glances. In a way, it was comforting to know that such a pair exist. Even if it is not me, at least I know it is not lost.

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road."

-Walt Whitman