Trying to get back home

October 15th. The 15th day of giving away $100. The month is just about half over and I feel a definite sadness over turning that corner.

I did some grocery shopping today on my way home from work. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t see the guy who’s always there selling Street Roots. It worried me. I heard recently that another of the vendors I saw regularly outside the neighborhood library had died from a heroin overdose.

There were plenty of other people milling around, though. I got stopped by a well-dressed guy who asked if I wanted to “talk about the local elections.” Maybe he was just in the mood to chat but it seemed unlikely. I  didn’t want to be rude or have him think that I don’t care about the local elections. But I didn’t want to talk, so I told him I was “all set” (whatever that meant) and sped by.

I’ve started keeping the $100 bill in my pocket for easy access. I could feel it crinkling around in there as I made my way through the store. I watched a couple of young women selecting and grinding their coffee beans. I liked them and thought about stopping to talk. Then I noticed that they had picked the one brand of coffee beans that was not on sale. I moved on.

I finished my shopping and paid. The cashiers were having an animated conversation and were polite enough to try to include me. “Do you karaoke?” I said no but that it sounded fun (which was pretty much a lie).

Outside I saw this lovely couple with their instruments; they were just winding up a number. The open violin case held a few dollar bills held down by some change. Their clothes were kind of tattered, with odd configurations of layers. They made me think of the wonderful movie “Once”. We started to chat and they said they were from the Bay Area. They came up here for the summer but now that it’s getting cold out they want to go back home when they get the money together.

“Well, I hope this helps a little”. I put the C-note in the violin case. The woman’s eyes got big. “Oh, my god! Thank you so much. Thank you!” We talked a little more and I told them about my mom and my Month of Hundreds.  The woman sweetly offered me her sincere condolences, and then they played me a song.

feed the kittens in the kitchen.
set food out for the strays.
try hard to do your best.
the magpie will have his way.

(from Magpie, by the Mountain Goats)

10 Responses to Magpie

  1. Don S says:

    I just learned of this project and blog yesterday, and could hardly wait to read the entries. I am inspired by who Jill is, and what she is doing.

    I am touched and feeling connected somehow to the the people she connected with in so many different ways.
    The money almost became secondary. What if we all took the effort to connect with the people we walk by every day? Thank you Jill for sharing your experiences. May we all become just a little bit more like you!

  2. 757rubicon says:

    I enjoyed your blog. If we could all just slow down and get to know each other the world may be a better place. Good luck and have fun.

  3. Timea says:

    It’s wonderful to “meet” the Magpies. I love The Mountain Goats. And if I were an animal (people say) I’d be a goat. Now… who cares about me, right? But your story of this awesome panorama makes me (like Don says above me) connected to your people.
    Timea the M.M. (= monstrous mosquito)

  4. Kate Ketcham says:

    I am so enjoying your stories–the way people’s eyes light up, so I too am a little sad that you are half-way through the month.

  5. skippymom says:

    I am a little late to the party, so to speak, and was going to wait until I finished all the entries to comment, but….

    This post made me realize how many things you assume – and how far off base you may actually be. It was the coffee purchasers and how they picked the one not on sale.

    We are a one income family by choice – I won’t go into details, but we work hard to be frugal, but still pay our bills and provide a nice life for our kids [5] – as such there are few luxuries in our world, but each of the kids has their favorite “treat” – and the coffee resonated with me because my next to youngest [18 yo] loves her coffee – a specific brand. She will happily drink whatever we have, but if I find myself with an extra few dollars [rare] I will skip what is on sale at the grocery to buy her a bag of her favorite. Just as I know the 13 yo covets socks & one of our sons adores beef jerky.

    The point is [& I am sure you realize] just because someone skipped a sale on coffee doesn’t mean they are flush or well to do – it might be a well deserved treat for good grades or because they just wanted to say “Thank you.”

    Your Mom made it appear as though you had little [when your family had more] while you assume that people have more then may well have.

    I hope this doesn’t appear rude, I don’t mean it to be, it is just I hope when I am closer to Oct. 25 I will see a change in this particular thought process.

    Right now my dogs are trying to figure out why I am crying through each post.

    Take care. I am sorry about your Mom. I just buried my Mom on October 1st, so I understand.

    • Dear Skippymom-

      I am very sorry for the recent loss of your mother. My mother and I were very close and I talked with her every day. She lived nearby for the last five years of her life and I saw her weekly. It leaves a great big void now that she is gone.

      I appreciate your comments and perspective. I do make a lot of assumptions and snap judgements and I don’t really like this part of myself. One of my goals in sharing some unpleasant things about myself is to make it more conscious so I can do something about it.

      I think it is really sweet that you get your daughter her favorite brand of coffee when you can. I definitely splurge at times and think it is okay to do so! But that little voice in my head will probably always be there.

      Thanks for reading. Jill

      • skippymom says:

        Thanks for the response. I think that is what I miss the most. Talking to my Mom everyday. The world is so much more quiet now. I think you understand.

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