I got home from work Friday and laid down for a nap. Byzantine comes to visit me
tonight, I think to myself, so I need to get some rest for a late night. The phone rings an hour later just as my body realizes it will not get much more sleep with this heat. It's Sheri. She is going stir crazy
in her hot apartment where she is studying for a big final next week and wants to go outside. She is going to sit by the River and wants to know if I want to come along. I like being one of the people Sheri calls when she needs an escape from her studies, being someone who gets a glimpse at her mind. So I meet her at Verte Mart and get a burger. She gets a fig bar. We walk to CC's and get Mochasippi
s and walk down to the River, where a pleasant breeze is coming off the water.
The Riverwalk is where homeless people hang out and tourists stroll. While we were there, a small band of church members all clad in T-shirts bearing their church's name are walking about. One of them comes up to us and tells us that she was addicted to crack but has been clean for over a year and was there anything we could use prayer for. Sheri said her exam, so the woman and her other members circled us, clasped hands and prayed a brief prayer for her test and shortly left.
Sheri is getting her masters in French. She has been studying 20th Century French philosophy about melancholy as a real condition, a serious neurosis. She defined it as violence directed inward, where you internalize the lost object or person and cannot find closure with it. She said the only way to be delivered from it would be to put some distance between oneself and the loss so that it could be dealt with, usually in creative ways like poetry or art, as the Romantic Poets have taught us. She also had to explore the ideas of essentialism with regard to the sexes, questioning whether is was inborn or culturally based for women to be passive and men aggressive. I attributed some of this role assignment as being a result of the Fall, and I went into a brief explanation of my theories of sexual brokenness as possibly applying to her studies.
A man kept coming up to us and asking us what time it was. He said there was a place further down on the levee that served free meals at 9 o'clock, three nights a week. Another man came up to us and asked for change so Sheri gave him the fig bar she bought. After a few hours had gone by, Sheri asked if I would walk with her to check out this street feeding. The man had given us pretty good directions. Right up against the levee, there were a few cars and vans with their rear doors open. A fold out table had people standing on both sides; one was dishing out plates of red beans and rice and the other was eating them. There were no lights out there but headlights. People sat on the gravel and in the dirt, at card tables in the ridiculous heat, eating off paper plates jambalaya and slices of watermelon. I stood by Sheri's bike as she walked up to one of the volunteers to ask her what church supported this. She was told it was mainly just volunteers who pooled the money for the food out of their own pockets. The people taking advantage of the food were mainly street kids and street performers, but Sheri and I have both been in straits to where we may have even been among them if we had known where things like this were going on.
We are all hungry for something. For food, for good company, for a glimpse at an appealing future. For the time of day and for prayer. We will always hunger for what we cannot have, no matter how much we tell ourselves that we are sated. Sheri wants to not be single anymore, as do I. But for now, we have each other, and it's enough for now.