Saturday, December 31, 2011

Blogging Til Homeless, Day 32: I'll be Home for Christmas

This is a reprint of a story that I wrote in 2008, and it's a true story, a story of what I used to do, and a story of hope and renewal. I need a little of that right now.

I'll Be Home For Christmas

I was lost, dirty and hungry, wandering the streets of Richmond in August of 2008. In my travels, I happened upon a convenient store and thought I'd hit the dumpster to see if there was anything worth scavenging. Jackpot! A half-eaten burger, wrapped back up and still slightly warm. As I gently unwrapped the burger, I noticed a group of people staring at me, so I wolfed the burger down. I wasn't gonna let anyone take my find, no way, no how. It's been hard enough fighting off the stray dogs that try to take any food I come across. Well, I sneaked a look back at the folks that had stared, and one man was slowly coming toward me with his hand held out. In his hand was another burger. I could smell it-oh, man. As he neared, I realized that he was offering the burger to me.

Now, I can take care of myself. Don't get any ideas that I can't. Yeah, I hadn't had a chance at bath in a while. Yeah, my hair was greasy and snarled. Yeah, I was a little…well, honestly MORE than a little rank, but I didn't need any handouts. I could take care of myself.

I took the hamburger.

While I was eating, the man spoke to me in a gentle voice, like I was afraid of him-HA. I fear no one. I've lived on the streets and taken care of myself for a couple of months now. I can handle myself in any situation.

Well, this guy, he started describing a place where I could go where, if I wanted, I could maybe get a bath, three squares and a place to sleep. Like I said, I can handle myself, but lately it's been getting harder to eat because I have a few rotten teeth, and some big dogs have chased me away from the best dumpsters. I thought I'd give it a chance. If I didn't like it, I could always leave. No fences or doors were going to stop me if I wanted out.

I ended up at the City shelter, where I got cleaned up and fed. Not too bad a deal, actually. Better yet, I met somebody. No, no, not like that-she's a friend, get it? She took me home and put me up in her own house-how many people would do that for somebody they don't know anything about? I coulda run off with the silverware or something. But I wouldn't do that, 'cause I can take care of myself just fine. My friend made sure that I had enough to eat, a place to sleep and all the hot water for baths that I could dream of. It's pretty good to feel clean and fed after being dirty and hungry for awhile.

My friend also helped me get to the doctor to get my teeth (and everything else) looked at. When she found out the getting my bad teeth pulled was expensive, well, something unusual happened.

It seems that there are LOTS of people like my friend out there. Y'know, people who help out. Now, I haven't had much experience with the Internet, but she went and typed up my doctor's recommendation to a bunch of her online friends, and they chipped in to take care of my doctor bill-imagine that! People that didn't even know me!

After awhile, my friend began to talk to me about getting on with my life, and having a home of my own. Y'know, she can't help but one at a time, so she couldn't help anyone else while she was helping me. Well, I thought that was it-she was gonna throw me out, but that's all right. I can take care of myself just fine.

Well, that's not what she meant. She told me that I wasn't gonna have to live on the street anymore, and that those Internet friends of hers were looking for a place that I could live. Like, live there forever and not have to eat out of dumpsters anymore. Well I reckon those dumpster burgers weren't so bad, but I was getting kinda used to being in a home, y'know? With regular meals and being clean and all, I was feeling like a regular girl, and I was starting to want more for myself, too.

Christmas was coming, and that's when my friend said her Internet buddies had found a home for me. In Connecticut, with a couple that saw my picture and asked for me. Asked for ME! Imagine that…

Tomorrow I get to take a road trip, and I will be leaving my friend forever. She's packed up my favorite things to take with me, and she tells me that I will be making lots of new friends at the end of my journey. I'll be in my new home for Christmas. I never thought much of Christmas before, but now I am getting a precious gift-new friends, a new home and a new life. I'm never gonna have to take care of myself or be all alone again. And maybe, just maybe…I can take care of my new friends, too.

Stray German Shepherd Dog
Last Hope Safe Haven Rescue
Christmas 2008

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