“Do you want me to bring it back to you?” He asked as I handed him a travel mug of steaming coffee. My cupboard was full of travel mugs, and this one actually had a lid that fit properly, didn’t leak, and kept things hot.
“Nope, it’s yours” I said as I poured coffee into my own favourite travel mug and he pulled his shoes on, zipped up his coat, and pulled his hood up.
I said “Stay warm hey” as I looked at his shoes and wondered how those sneakers were going to hold up to the frigid temperatures outside. It was the middle of winter in Canada after all.
He said ‘Thanks” as he walked out the door, and I shut and locked it behind him, never to see him again.
This morning took place a few months ago. And despite how you may have read into it so far, it is not the morning after a one night stand, although some may consider it as cavalier as one.
It was a Thursday morning, and the previous night had entailed cheap wings at a pub just up the street from my house. As the night was wrapping up, the group of friends I was with gradually convened outside the pub doors, and in the time it took for everyone to be accounted for I had struck up a conversation with a guy outside the bar, who I assumed had also been enjoying wings there that night. In our short chat, it came up that he was from the city that I originally came from, one notorious for being “friendly” (it’s on our licence plates for goodness sake), and also for being well connected. I often say to people that I meet from my hometown – “Now how do we know each other?”
Within the few short moments that we were conversing, it came up that this young guy (I would guess early twenties) was actually making his way to the west coast, on his own, no real plans for accommodation, kind of a Lone Ranger type of guy.
So I offered him our spare room.
Now, the rest of the evening was incredibly uneventful. The couple of housemates I was out with, this new friend and I headed back to our house, hung out in the kitchen for a bit, then all went to bed. I had to get up early for school the next morning, so had to wake this guy up. I knocked softly on the door, he was quick to rise and collect his things and head for the door, but not without first being incredibly gracious of the warm place to sleep. He asked me if I could add him on Facebook so that we could stay in touch, but seeing as he had no phone, and we couldn’t find his profile on my phone, that was a lost cause.
Our short connection, was an incredibly powerful experience to me. Now, to reiterate my intentions from my first blog post, “Please, for the sake of my conscience, do not take this blog post as encouragement to put yourself knowingly in dangerous situations, for a chance to ‘connect’. But do challenge yourself to reflect on what your comfort zone is, why it is the way it is…”
There have been many times where I have interacted with people who are strangers to me, and it did not lead to anything more than a few second exchange of words. But the encounter I have just described, is one example of a time that I connected with someone and knew that there was something that I could offer that person to make their next step a little safer, and less difficult.
I never have to think about where I am going to sleep the next night. I never have to think about if my feet are going to be warm enough (unless I make a silly wardrobe choice on a cold day). And I very rarely have to worry about feeling safe in my own skin. Maybe it was because we connected over being from the same city, maybe it was because I could not imagine walking away from him on this freezing night, knowing he was just going to end up “wherever”, or maybe it was just one of those spur of the moment things that turns out well. I don’t think it really matters.
“The best gift you are ever going to give someone – the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough.” (Hannah Brencher) This quote is so applicable, in so many situations. I use it here to challenge that feeling safe should not require “permission” but rather, is a right. However, for some that right deteriorates due to gender, race, sexual orientation, SES, physical or mental health status, family structure, religion, faith, language, amongst many other factors. I hope that I was able to make that guy from my hometown feel safe that night, despite whatever factors may have been at play in his life at that time. I also hope that the judgement I received from friends who heard about it after created an opportunity to reflect on why their judgement came so quickly, and harshly, ranging from simple “oh my god” to “I hope you disinfected the room after”. He is still a human being. Why is that so easily forgotten.
The choice to live life in a way that is considerate of the safety of others, is a choice that I try to make every day. Everyone likes existing in a strong community – be a part of building yours.
Love always and all ways,