In and out of the shadows

Today, in the 30 seconds or it took to get from my car into the store, I was so cold I ached. The wind gusts were over 30 mph, and the temps went from 60 yesterday to 30 today.  I spent the afternoon distributing food intended for the community meal that got nixed by the here-and-gone Sunday ice storm.  As I packed the leftovers backed to the pantry, I was surprised to almost stumble into a guy wandering through the dark areas downstairs.

He was as surprised as I was and quite disappointed.  I said “Hi!” in a large voice, mostly out of surprise. It wasn’t much of a conversation, but I had the distinct impression he did NOT intend to stumble upon me. The non-verbal “gosh darnit!” was written all over his face.  He offered that he’d come through this way because the kids were up there. What kids? Up where?  As he trucked away, I wondered if he’d just snuck in for the evening, for a place out of the cold, stiff wind. Did I mention it was miserable outside? It was MISERABLE outside.  He headed out the front door and that’s the last I’d seen of him.  An older gentleman, salt & pepper gray hair, reasonably dressed in a winter coat, cell phone in holster on his waist. Out the door, into the fading light on a cold winter.

Was he today’s face of homelessness in the little town in which I live?  Does he play guitar like one of the guys in this article?

Did he lose his job when the factory laid folks off?  Did he & his wife get in a fight again?  Do his hands look these guys in the article here?  Where’d he end up for the night?

And why in the world does it matter what some outline on a map says — it’s cold enough to freeze to death tonight (and yes, that REALLY does happen) or at least do some serious frostbite damage (and yes, that REALLY does happen too).

Was that your dad looking for a warm place out of the cold?  Your brother?  Your son?  Was it you?  Tell me again how much the color on the map matters to you now?

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