Nothing is stopping.

(It began on the train.)

We become our parents. We become our friends, admirers, lovers, and enemies. It is inevitable to avoid, this absorption of everything that surrounds you. For 22 years, I have been surrounded by New York City. I have soaked in the subway, the accent, the pushes and shoves, the catcalls. I overflow… I am a shell encasing an entire city- right down to the homeless man to my left. Without proper recognition, he is defining me. By existing, portraying a negative outcome of our society, he allows me to bask in the glory of what has been deemed as “right.”

I do wonder about him, though. I consider the ways by which he’s arrived to this moment. His body follows the motion of the train. He softly collapses to the left, his shoulder falling to the chair beneath it. For someone else, maybe it would’ve been the side of a stranger, but for him, it is a cold empty object. He does not carry the haunting aroma that the many other unfortunate New Yorkers living on the streets do, but still he rests alone. He sleeps. I think of the apartments that I would run to, in case of a house fire, or some other tragic event that could lead to this path- I am grateful.

Many years ago, I served in a soup kitchen. The thought of doing it overwhelmed me with anxiety. I can remember not knowing what to expect, as I’d never really interacted with homeless people before (and obviously, I assumed that these were the only attendees of a dinner at the Bowery Soup Kitchen). It took 4 hours to prepare the meal. The pots were of industrial proportions- some of the vats stood over two feet tall, bubbling with spaghetti sauce. People began to arrive...

In suits.

My friends and I served mountainous plates to those seated at the tables, creating the air of a restaurant to a room full of people who probably didn’t get the experience very often. Many of them were returning to Bowery after working jobs, just before returning to their shelters and halfway housing. Their clothing may have been acquired from donation sources. They did not look homeless at all. Gracious, maybe, but not as I had expected them to appear. (I’ve since learned, that a number of my friends and their families were once seated at these tables, disguising their circumstances against the most commonly visualized form of the term homeless.)

I’m on the train again. As he rests, I think of transitions. Recently, I heard that approximately 48% of New Yorkers cannot afford to purchase food. A percentage is so exuberantly high, that there is a chance are you will be seated next to someone, on their way to home to bring their family to a place like Bowery Soup Kitchen, tomorrow. Someone, in the middle of a transition between two places -And one ending was seated to my left this morning. Nothing is stopping.

(It ended in my bed.)

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