I’m not celebrating just yet, but we got some amazing news this week. Through a lot of hard work from Elizabeth, the outreach worker that we have been working with, it looks like Anthony will receive his very own set of keys to his apartment next Monday!!!
Sadly I am not in the US to celebrate with him…I am in Bolivia on a business trip. I called him yesterday via and he was so excited and thankful for the hard work, kindness and support so many have offered to him.
He went on Monday to check out the apartment. “It’s got a really nice bed,” he told me. Thoughts of him no longer sleeping on the damp unforgiving pavement made my voice smile back at him.
I have to admit though – I am a bit worried about this transition. This will be a tremendous change for Anthony. I need to find out if they have services available to help homeless individuals deal with moving back indoors. I am certainly not the best option to give him support in that area.
Anyway…I will have more news at the latest by early next week! I hope that I will be able to go with him and watch him receive his keys.
The eye drops that Dr. Rubinfeld put in my eyes were starting to take affect when my phone rang. I moved the screen a bit further away than normal and read Anthony’s name on the caller ID. He was calling to say that he might be a little late for our 11:45 meeting – his pants ripped earlier in the day and he needed to get a new pair across town at a thrift store.
My eye exam wrapped up and I was cleared for Lasik eye surgery next Wednesday. I wandered out of the doctor’s office, my eyes fighting off the unwelcome sun that was bathing the sidewalks of Friendship Heights, MD. Although it’s only about a block to the Metro, it took me a few extra minutes to arrive as I kept my head tucked deep into the top of my coat looking straight down as I walked, using my hand to shield my eyes from the sun’s rays. I stepped into the underworld of the Metro and finally found my eyes relaxed in the cool dimly lit concrete world. A few minutes later I was downtown DC near Anthony’s corner. I grabbed a coffee and plopped down in a comfy chair at Caribou Coffee to burn some time until he arrived.
We met; he was upbeat and very chipper. A side of him that I hand’t seen in a while. In fact, I hadn’t really seen any side of Anthony in a weeks as he’d cancelled a few of our meetings.
He slipped me a folded up piece of legal paper – you know the yellow colored type. “We’ll talk about that over lunch,” he said with a smile. Before heading off to lunch, Anthony asked me to take a photo of him to send to a very generous woman named Joyce who has been following the blog and sent a donation to cover a night in hotel for him.
Over quesadillas and tacos we talked about the piece of paper he slipped me earlier. I unfolded it carefully – it seems that it had gotten wet at some point and could potentially tear so I wanted to be gentle with it. Inside I found a business card for an outreach worker that Anthony likes very much. He hopes that she will be able to help him navigate the housing assistance jungle. We’ve got several irons in the fire, but I believe that we really need to stick with one group and work more closely with them if we want to get keys to an apartment in Anthony’s hands.
After lunch we walked back to his corner. He grilled me on my book writing. I’m behind again, but still very committed. But Anthony suggested we up the stakes some. “You need consequences,” he said grinning about as wide as one can. “If you don’t get your draft proposal done in the next 3 weeks, then I think you need to come sleep on the streets with me.”
Not a bad motivator. I don’t have any interest in spending a night on the streets of DC. I nodded my head slowly knowing that Anthony’s suggestion was a good one, despite the fact that I wasn’t wild about the idea. But that is just the kind of consequence that we need to have – something to motivate me to meet my deadlines. So there you go. The clock is ticking and I need to get writing…so I will be back in touch next week.
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
For me the pitter patter sound of falling rain soothes the soul. I often stay inside by the fireplace where I find my eyes wandering toward the windowsill. The only difference today was that when I looked out at the marbles of rain bouncing on the street surface below I knew that Anthony was not snuggled up in a home next to a fireplace drinking freshly brewed coffee.
It was a little after 7am. I was up writing but having trouble focusing. I was supposed to meet him at 11:30am for our bi-weekly meeting. Last week he flaked on it – well maybe that is too harsh. I found him in an exhausted state after being up most the night monitoring a group of college kids that he was supervising as they went through a 48 “urban plunge” where they experience life on the streets. It’s understandable he didn’t feel much like meeting. Hell, he didn’t want to eat. I know he’s not feeling well when he passes up a free meal!
It was shortly after 11am when I got the call. Anthony cancelled again. “Maybe next week,” he said sounding sluggish and melancholy “It’s nasty out there this morning and I’m just going to stay here at the Au Bon Pain and wait it out and maybe try to get some sleep.” I offered to meet him there at the french bakery, but he insisted that today was not a good day.
I let it go. We talked for a minute about a few other items, he checked on my writing progress. “Well, I tried to do some this morning but that didn’t work out. I’ve got some time set aside later this afternoon,” I told him still hopeful that I would get some productive time in on the book after lunch.
This is the first time since we have been working together that he has cancelled twice in a row. I offered to change my schedule and meet with him on Thursday but he preferred to wait until next week.
Something doesn’t seem right.
Sadly I didn’t get any work done on my book. I got a lot of other crap done…but no writing.
In the little more than two months that Anthony and I have been working to help one another – I have gotten to know him much better. I’ve seen his ups and downs, I’ve sat in doctor’s offices with him as he is told devastating news about his health and I have heard some of the pain from his past. But nothing has affected me more than my encounter with him last night.
Like many Americans, I spent Sunday evening watching the 47th contest of the Superbowl. It delivered an exciting game and although I didn’t really have a dog in the fight, I was happy to see Baltimore win. I’m more of a Continue reading →
I had to run some errands on Friday so I decided to take the car and go by Anthony’s corner to see if he was there. As I drove on M Street I spotted his familiar bright yellow vest from a few hundred feet away.
I pulled the car over, probably in some illegal spot, and called over to him. His eyes darted in every direction looking for where the calls were coming from and then he saw my extended hand out the window, beckoning to him.
“Merry Christmas my friend,” he said with the jovial spirit of a true santa clause. He handed me the latest edition of Street Sense and I gave him a five dollar bill. I explained that I was worried about him because I couldn’t reach him on his phone. He told me that his minutes were all used up for the month on the phone that he receives through a government subsidy. “You gotta have a phone,” he says referring to the world we live in today.
He gave me the number to prepaid phone that he uses when the other one is out of minutes. “This one is working now and at the end of the month I will switch it back to the number you’ve been trying to reach me at.”
I was relieved I had found him and that he was ok. He told me he was going to find an inexpensive motel or something in Virginia and spend a night or two indoors to celebrate the holidays. I want to get him something…still thinking about ideas. Let me know if you have any suggestions.