Let the writing commence once more.
Back when I worked in the homeless intensive case management and rehab program, I had the pleasure of knowing an unusual man. He was a tall, african american male in his 40's, recently discharged from jail, and suffering from depression. I practically managed his case single handedly on my team because he actually was much too put together and intelligent to be in our program, but to the degree that he was bright he also lacked initiative and drive to make changes in his life. That's where I came in.
What he wanted most of all was to showcase art. He used to draw and lost all of his work after a storage unit he could not afford to pay was taken over. We started by visting local coffee shops and small art galleries and picking up business cards. He had no money, no connections, and a lot of fear. My job? I was a bit of a ball-buster on our team, and was good at getting difficult clients engaged. With time and a lot of rehab visits, he started to feel better, and began filling the pages of notebooks I brought him with art, proudly showing these to me each time I came to visit.
I remember the day he called the office to tell me that he had been assaulted and thrown out of a 2nd story house. I rushed to the hospital-- he was in really bad shape, having been stabbed and with a badly broken hip and leg. I remember him crying and offering him my hand to squeeze. I came to visit him every day while he was hospitalized. I waited for him to get out of his 2nd surgery with an art catalog in hand to offer him some comfort, just to look at something to help take the pain away..
After he recovered and returned to transitional housing, I had to sacrifice my soft side and sit him down for news he didn't want to hear: he was going to be discharged from the program, and he had 6 months to get himself in shape, including a job and a place to live. The second part of that conversation was that I was leaving the job to move to the east coast at the end of the week. He thanked me for the visit and what I had done, and quietly got up. He didn't speak to me again.
Today, I came to one of my all time favorite coffee shops, located in an older and bit more hippie part of town. I ended up sitting under a framed picture of a san francisco style abstract house in black and pink hues, for sale for $150, with a soft light cast on it, matted and beautifully framed.. It's an ink drawing made by this man, one of his older pieces, one probably drawn using the very pens and pencils I brought him back when I was first getting him set up in transitional housing.
What a gentle reminder of why I've chosen the path that I'm on....