I remember you

My life, my heart, my volition, tugs at me.

When I was a culinary student, I remember clearly watching a man (let’s not call him homeless, but he could’ve been) outside the cooking school in downtown Cleveland pull a styrofoam clamshell of old spaghetti out of the trash can that had been thrown there seconds earlier. I was standing with my back against the cool concrete of the old Macy’s building where my lectures and labs were, where nationally renowned chefs demoed their techniques, high-profile banquets were held, where in a single 4-6 hour class we as students would prepare an entire buffet that could feed a good three dozen or more people, tasted that, and then threw it into the garbage can, too.

I offered the man some cash out of my wallet, some food from that school just behind my chef coat backside. Too embarrassed of the situation, he walked away dismissively with a wave of the hand. He was a little grizzly.

At this same time, I was living in a cash-only, month-to-month apartment an hour away from the school and the hospital offices I worked at as a cook. I couldn’t tell you half the stories–ambulances, K-9 units, child and family services. I once walked past a definitive homeless man with a tarp for a blanket in my hallway one night. Maybe he was riding the rails of the train not a block away. Maybe not. He had snacks and cans of Spaghetti-O’s though and when he gestured to me to keep walking, the only thing I could say was, “You are ok for tonight, but don’t be here in the morning.”

I mention all this not to show the places I’ve been in life, the real, cruel, human things I’ve seen, but that how heart-broken and ingrained in my memory were these two men. It’s what lent me to explore the men’s homeless shelter of Cleveland and volunteer there when given the chance, it’s what led me to volunteer as an adult literacy tutor for ESL and GED students. You see, it’s the business of food, of hunger, that has had me torn.

Why are people going hungry in a world where I make a living off what others would deem simply a choice and not even a life and death necessity?

I recently have applied and am in the process of volunteering at the one room, rural library near where I moved last summer. I had to get two separate state clearances to volunteer here. They have nothing. A resume computer, some DVDs. Not even more than two or three dozen shelves.

But we will start here. Show me where you hurt the most. Poor community, all this poor, poor humanity. Show me who you are so that I may be a beacon, a hope. Let me hold you where you bleed so we may heal together.

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