The Homeless Man Gave Me Bread [entry-title permalink="0"]

I could write a small book on my adventures in Nyack, during my late night walks with Shelly.

I just went out and came back with this loaf of bread at 1am in Nyack.

Here is a Nyack story for you:

So I am walking down Broadway, there is a homeless man on a bench to my right, and a truck stopped in the middle of the road. The driver gets out with a bottle of water and what appears to be bread in his hand and gives it to the homeless man. He comes back to his truck, beaming and says hello to me, big smile on his face. I say hi and smile, acknowledging what a nice gesture that was. He drives off.

The homeless man calls out to me and starts walking across the street, asking me if I want bread. I said, “oh no, that’s for you.” He said, “No it’s too much, he gave me two huge loaves, please take it. You are helping me. I’m not going to eat all this.” He’s pretty adamant and hey I like bread so I say once again, are you sure?? and I take the bread and say thank you. He seemed so happy to be able to give me the bread.

This homeless man gave me a loaf of bread and as I was walking away and continuing on my walk with Shelly, I just started to cry. I was so emotional at the thought of a homeless man giving me something. It hit me in such a way that I cannot explain it. I am still so touched.

On the way back I saw him and said thank you again and he started chatting about a song he was listening to. He said he couldn’t sleep. We talked about the song and whether I knew it. He said the song brings him back to being 11 years old. It was like more and more of his humanity was being revealed to me. He told me to put half of the bread in the freezer so it doesn’t go to waste. We said our goodbyes.

The fear of being homeless since I was a little girl is something that has stayed with me. At the age of 12 we started getting eviction notices and I remember the terror I felt.  Today, I often walk by a homeless person and think about what brought them there, I even imagine what I would do if I was homeless, what spots I would pick to sleep on, how I would survive? It is an irrational fear but it is something that is never that far from my mind.

And so when this homeless man gave me a loaf of bread, I just broke open.

The truth is, I pass this man on the street a lot, and I pass by the homeless people around here with a bit of an edge on my face.

Being a single woman, sometimes I have to put the “hard face” on.

I’ve had the displeasure of having a couple of them fixate on me throughout my years of living here and so I’ve taken to not looking their way.

Today it was like, I got jolted out of something, awakened to a reality I had fallen asleep to. In my attempts to protect myself from harassment, I lost the fact that they are human beings, with feelings and songs they like, and foods they enjoy, and things they like to do..like the homeless man who walks and walks all over the Nyack with his cigar, and the other one who takes jogs periodically, and this one who seems to know a lot of people and loves talking to everyone.

Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own shit, we don’t see what is right in front of us.

I don’t think I can ever walk past them the same way ever again. I feel so humbled by tonight.

He will definitely get a home cooked meal from me and who knows what else.

Next time I see him, I will for sure, ask him his name.

EDIT:
His name was Piper. Today I learned of his death and how people are leaving flowers in front of the Starbucks in Nyack for him. It was his spot. I am not surprised by the outpouring I am seeing. His humanity shone bright.