Posted by michelle on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 / Labels: homelessness
I’ve been away for a few days.
I went to the Storyline conference by Donald Miller…
And it was uh-mazing.
I’m sure I’ll be writing about it a lot over the next few weeks.
Or at least things he/we talked about.
I mostly just need sleep and to process all that good stuff I am chewing on.
So for now, Meet Ryan from Cleveland.
I met him in Portland, but not at the conference.
Sunday night the conference went until nine. And afterwards we were invited to a special movie test run from an amazing director that Milller interviewed.
He rented out some cool theatres in downtown Portland…and I couldn’t wait to see the movie.
Except it was not at all close to my hotel. And it would finish after 11:30 pm.
And I wasn’t 100% sure I could even stay awake that long ( 2 hour time difference not in my favor). But I was not ok with walking over a mile in a strange city, when I wasn’t sure where I was going, close to midnight.
So I relucatnantly decided to pass.
I hate missing out, and tried to cheer myslef up with some gelatto and a plan. There was still plenty of people out and it seemed safe enough around 9, so I figured I’d get out my camera out, take a walk, snap some photos, wander through a bookstore and get a drink before crawling into my nice hotel king sized bed. All hopefully before 10.
So I walked and looked and started snapping.
Until this guy with amazing brown curls asked if I took a picture of him. He didn't look any older than most of my students.
I wasn’t sure if he was angry or joking.
But assured him I was taking a picture of the building behind him.
Kind of kidding, I then told him I could take picture of him if he wanted.
He said sure and half smiled.
And made a crack about all his homeless garb.
Before I knew what I was doing, I asked if he wanted to grab a cup of coffee or something.
He agreed. Changed his course and we walked the block.
He asked why.
“why are you offering to buy some random homeless guy a cup of coffee”
I wasn’t entirely sure myself.
Except of course, that it is what we are called to do, just not the course of action I usually take.
I shrugged, and said “I was exploring the city and figured he could tell me a few things”
He said that he could,
But that he was really from Cleveland and only been her about 3 weeks.
He asked if I was from the South. And I laughed, laid the accent on thick and asked how he could tell. We walked down the street talking about Cleveland, Texas and Portland.
And got to a coffee shop.
I pulled open the door and he kind of froze.
He looked down and said, “I’m not allowed in there”.
I looked a little puzzled and he continued, “Homeless people. They don’t let us in.”
“Oh”, I said softly. “Even if we are paying for stuff”.
He shook his head.
I asked if he knew of another place we could go. Somewhere they’d let us both in.
And he just said,
“That’s ok. Really, I probably need to be going anyways. I better go claim a door way before they are all taken.”
I reached in my pocket, handed him the cash I was going to use to buy our coffee.
I told him to buy a cup in the morning. And some breakfast too.
He took it. Thanked me. And again, asked why.
“Why are you giving some homeless guy you don’t even know 10 bucks.”
I’m sure this is where I probably should have told him about Jesus or something.
But those words didn’t come.
Instead I just shrugged again. And said, “because you need it” and that “it was my pleasure”.
He then stopped looking at the ground. Looked me square in the eye, stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Ryan”
“Ryan from Cleveland” I said, “nice to meet you. I’m Michelle from Texas”.
And he went right to go claim his doorway to sleep in and I went left, back to my hotel.