I left the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle drenched in love and truth, with the steady buzz of power coursing through me from the messages I’d just heard. The onyx sky swallowed all but the city lights. The darkness, mixed with the humming of passing cars, drunken conversations and the thrill of walking the city at night made me feel powerful, driven, focused. Instead of the usual thought that women should never walk alone at night in the city, I had the opposite thought. I strode with my head high, eyes kissing every passing person on the steep, urban sidewalk.
The homeless were setting up their cardboard shelters for the night. I watched them carefully set each flap of crumbling cardboard just so, in need of shelter, just like me. I watched them, blood coursing through their veins just like mine. I watched them, knowing they are someone’s child, and so am I. Then I thought of my Beckham. My sweet toddler who is like any other toddler, but he’s mine and I am his. My boy, with his dirty blonde hair and his giant kissable cheeks. Someday he will grow up, just like they did, and he will still belong to me.
Just as I came upon an inlet in the adjacent building, a cheap, plastic water bottle rolled fast down the sidewalk. I shifted my course slightly and stopped it with my $100 dollar mini Mia faux cowboy boot. I knelt to pick it up, then walked forward to find its owner. Two men had set up camp in the inlet, one with only a sleeping bag on the sidewalk and the other with a sleeping bag stuffed inside a flimsy cardboard tomb.
“Is this yours?” I said to the man in the sleeping bag
He stares back at me through wide eyes, saying nothing with his voice. I turn to the man in the cardboard tomb.
“Is this your water?”
He sits up, careful not to disturb the placement of his deteriorating home.
“Oh, yea. Thanks” he says, taking it from my hands and shoving it into his sleeping bag. He lies back down and I continue on my way to the parking garage.
I finally make it to my beloved Red–the name we’ve given our Ford Escape, which was once surrounded by hundreds of cars in the front of the garage, but it is now the last car. I start my car, turn on my GPS, and drive home.
The drive takes me an hour, and the whole way, I cry.
I cry because I forget how fortunate I am. I cry because maybe someone else would’ve let that water bottle fly down the sidewalk. I cry because I had just come from a conference about love, racism, overcoming addiction, sexism and pursuing hopes and goals and dreams. I cry because the man in the sleeping bag and the man in the box struggle with those things just like I do, but they are on the street corner and I am pushing the gas pedal with my $100 dollar shoes, and steering the wheel with my beautiful diamond wedding ring and following orders from my GPS to take me home to my family. The man in the sleeping bag and the man in the box used to be like my Beckham. They used to wipe crumbs from the corners of their filthy mouths with their sleeves, and think hot wheels and dinosaurs were “so super cool.” But somewhere along the way, they ended up on a cold sidewalk instead of in a warm bed.
Somewhere along the way, the world forgot that we belong to each other.
It’s been weeks since I’ve attended the Together Live conference in downtown Seattle. Yet those 10 minutes that it took me to walk to my car have stayed with me.
I came to the conference first and foremost to see my girl, Glennon (otherwise known as G) in action. After reading her memoir “Love Warrior” I basically fell in love with her. Since then I have followed her life on social media and my love grew.
You know when you meet someone and it feels like you’ve known them forever? How about talking to a stranger for five minutes and feeling an overwhelming sense of authenticity, transparency and genuine love?
It’s rare, but it happens
I know because that’s how I felt when I found G in cyber space. I initially read “Love Warrior” after leaving the LDS church with my husband and infant son. My heart was hurting so terribly and I needed love and goodness and truth.
After leaving a church that claims to be the ONLY church with God’s truth, you can see why I desperately needed some truth to hold on to. I needed some help floating in my own proverbial sea of despair. At the very least I needed someone to hold my head up just enough so my nose stuck just above water. I needed help staying alive long enough to figure out how to swim through my old truths and my suffering, and accept my new truths. So I prayed, and prayed and prayed and prayed.
Then God introduced me to G and I took a breath.
I listened to her speak, read every word she wrote and felt her love and truth spew out of all of it. She owned her truths, she owned her mistakes, she owned her heartbreak. Through it all, she grew to accept who she truly was at her core.
I craved that soul quenching truth for myself.
I began exploring myself, my soul, allowing suppressed memories to come alive again. I evaluated everything and let myself make my own opinion about it with my own voice–not my ex church’s voice, not my family’s voice, not my society’s voice–just mine.
That’s when I grew wings and flew. I began discovering my own truths. I built on those truths and shattered the expectations I’d previously set for myself. I became a person I was genuinely proud of. I started writing again, loving again and taking risks again.
Because of the love I have had around me my entire life, I was able to decide a new path for myself with unwavering support. The issues I’ve had to overcome, the feelings of oppression from my previous religious affiliation, depression and anxiety–all of that and more are what people go through every day. Yet some people fly and others flounder.
This is the hard stuff that people refer to. This is the hard stuff we talked about at Together Live, and right outside the theatre door were people who were suffering. And even further from that there are thousands of people hurting everyday. And we let things like race, sex, money, religion and status get in the way of belonging to each other.
In the words of G, there is no such thing as someone else’s child. We belong to each other. All of us are someone’s child. All of us are still children on the inside, needing love, guidance, support. Hell, I need someone to wipe the crumbs from my mouth sometimes, because I fail and because I can’t do this life alone. Because I need my human family more than anything. I need your strength, I need your truths, I need your life experiences, your cultures and, overall, your love, without conditions.
I need you, and you need me.
We belong to each other.