I visited my old stomping grounds yesterday where I hung out with some brilliant souls during my stay in the shelter a year and a half ago. Although I don’t have much to give, I’m pretty sure I made a few people’s day.
I visited with the intention of running into a man who is homeless and became instrumental in helping me through some very dark days. Not only is he wise, but he’s got stories like I’ve never heard, and he took me under his wing as we traveled the dusty roads together.
His name is Tommy, or Doc. But as with everyone, I had to give him a nickname that suited him. He’s Tommycidal now because he always carries as knife with him wherever he goes and in my darkest hour, after being thrown into the streets in the middle of the cold night, I had every intention of asking him to borrow that knife to end my life.
Needless to say, that never happened. He was my angel.
I waited for him yesterday outside and as he narrowed the bend, I yelled out, “There he is! Tommycidal!” After a long hug, we exchanged brilliant smiles and a brief moment in time that brought us back to the days he showed me how to pick up free books, where to eat, how to bargain, who to stay clear of, who to talk to for clues in my crazy story, where to go next, where to sleep if needed, what to say, what not to say, etc… We spoke of past lovers, the man in the sky, conspiracy theories that we made up along the way, glory day stories and the government’s eyes watching our every move. We were both a little lopsided, but I tell ya, they are the best kind.
In any case, we reminisced and I was proud to tell him I’ve moved on and have a place to call home now. I wanted to take a snapshot of the moment. His eyes are the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen. Bright blue, leathered skin offset by shimmering silver hair. Taking wisdom to an entirely new level.
The snapshot gave me an idea.
I’ll dedicate my Friday afternoons, while I’m in town, to drawing and painting candid portraits of my friends that I met in the streets. Many of them are homeless and don’t have phones or cameras.
While I was away in rehab, I drew portraits of many of the women there. To say they were touched, is an understatement. Especially one in particular. Not only had she never know the joys of coloring as a child, she never once had her picture taken. Needless to say, she welled up with tears when I presented it to her, exclaiming, “That’s me?! I’m beautiful!”
It astounds me how many blushed at their own beauty.
I was filled with so much joy just handing them their art and portraits that they could call their own. I spread my love in my own way, instilling pride into these women by reflecting how beautiful and unique each one of them are through the eyes of a ‘stranger.’
I want to do the same for the homeless ladies and gentlemen I’ve met. I want to portray their beauty and uniqueness in a raw and unhinged manner, video taping their thoughts as we go along. It’s interesting to hear comments because it’s a very intimate experience between artist and muse. Not only are they curious as to how others see them in the flesh, but they’re looking deep within.
I’ll put up a site where these videos and portraits can be displayed, with permission of course. I could take it a step further and upload resumes for them on this site, if they so choose. A portrait, a video, story and resume.
It is my way of looking at someone in the eye everyday and saying, “Damn, you’re beautiful … Your soul radiates through your smiling eyes and your story isn’t over.”