what i did while i wasn’t here

That’s me! Cheesing as usual.

IMG_6625Over the weekend, I visited this lovely girl for the first time at her school home, Florida International University in Miami. If it feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve written, it’s because it’s been even longer since I saw Mal (over three incredibly long months) and I wasn’t willing to share any of that time with my computer. Though we did watch a complete season of the show GIRLS within a three day time span . . .

Holla at Lena Dunham, you are quirky and hilarious and one of the best TV writers/producers/directors/superhumans around.

IMG_6647It was three days full of non-stop girl talk, snacks  thrown together to create meals fit for college students, cuddles, cool people, and happiness. Yes, I did make it to South Beach, and I saw everything you’d expect to see on South Beach. Boobs, speedos, thongs galore! Sorry, but I don’t have any pictures of that stuff. If you’ve never been, it’s seriously beautiful and so worth the trip.

Besides the company, the best part of the trip by far was Saturday when we got down and dirty on . . . some feet. Not what you were expecting? Wondering what this even means? Weh-heh-ell, literally, I mean we washed feet.

I don’t often agree with the present day church mentality, however there is no denying how awesome it is when churches and church-goers use their resources to help and connect with other people. Especially people that feel isolated a lot of the time simply because of circumstance.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., this church decided to offer shoes, food, and pediatrists to downtown Miami’s homeless. There was an impressive turnout of volunteers, and I met some pretty chill people. We were all separated into groups. Mal and my new friend JJ (say hi to JJ!)IMG_6641 were part of the “prayer” group. The cool thing was, that the group was really more of a “we’re here for whatever you need even if it’s just to talk” group. There was another group distributing and exchanging shoes, and I was part of a washing trio. One of us washed feet, the second asked shoe sizes and ran to get them, and the third ran to clean the pales and get fresh water between every wash. We switched duties throughout the day.

Both of the girls in my group were juniors in high school. I remember that time in my life, and you couldn’t pay me enough to go back and do it all again. They were in the thick of college decisions, and one of the girls, Esther, had been a part of this mission three years in a row. She was so excited to hear that I go to SCAD because she’s been looking into our animation program. In between washes and during any lags, she was either asking questions about the school or teaching me the best ways to sanitarily wash other people’s feet.

IMG_6634When it was my turn to step up, I didn’t end up making it very far because amazingly enough, the very first person who walked up was a man that I made an instant connection with, Charles. I ended up spending a good chunk of my day hanging out with him. He had been walking for so many days in his slip-on sandals that his feet and ankles were severely swollen. He had sores and bunions covering his feet, and long, jagged toenails jutting in every direction. He was in serious pain.

He kept up a steady conversation with me as I washed his feet. It’s true that we understand ourselves in relation to other people, and I saw a lot of myself in Charles. We both are open, saying exactly what we think and feel, often without pausing to think long enough to censor our thoughts. He told me all about his addiction to alcohol, and the affects it’s had on his life. As I walked him over the the foot doctors, he asked me if I play any sports (presumably because I’m above average height) and when I told him I don’t (I go to art school, after all) he told me about his niece and that she plays volleyball for her high school team. He ended up sticking around the whole day and becoming friends with some of the locals, and some of the church members. I don’t know if he’ll kick his addiction, but I do know that when he sat down with me he looked defeated and embarrassed, and when he left he was smiling and hopeful.

People like to pity and look down on those who are without homes. Society seems to want to push them into some sub-category that is “other” and less desirable, when the truth is that any one of us could find ourselves in their situation. Humans are humans, homeless or not. Those people have or had families, they probably worked hard at some point in their lives, and just because they’re presently without the privileges that many of us take for granted, it doesn’t mean they’re all “bums.” Many have mental and physical conditions that make it hard to support themselves because of our screwed up system. They are people. I repeat, They. Are. People. 

IMG_6637All it takes sometimes is a little compassion to really help one another out. I’m not under the delusion that what we did that day changed the world in some major way, but I do know that it at least changed a few people’s worlds. Never be afraid to show a little kindness, because in this world, it goes a long way.

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