A homeless man—fifty years old, friendly—I had interviewed on Sunday passed me this note.
Isabella (Bella) — Hi…
🙂 Hoping that my letter will surely find you in the best of spirits…
I deeply enjoyed the bit of time we shared together. I’m really looking forward to spending more precious moments with u. I didn’t make breakfast @ Mission Possible Monday. I spent it @ The Angel House. I refreshed with a cool shower and coffee and glazed-doughnut. mmm—good! I thought about U alot!!! Mostly our fascinating conversation. I am, convinced beyond a shadow- of a doubt incessantly, and physically attracted to U… I want to let you know. Consider me your Hero!
Next time we meet I want to look you in your beautiful eyes and give you a hug, a big–tight hug.
Most of all… I want to conversate with you, you have alot that I want to learn from you. And hope that a truly great relationship can aspire between us, you and me.
I would love to call you – Bella – like Bella in *Twilight*— and I want to keep it like I’m the only one who calls you Bella.
I can’t wait to see you!!!
&really miss you!
First, want to make it clear that I’ve handed this over to the Mission Possible staff, and they’re going to find him and talk to him. Also, don’t let this contort your perception of the homeless. I’ve been going to Mission Possible for three months and talked with dozens of homeless people, and this is the first time something like this has happened. Writers tend to write about the things that make them feel strongly, and I haven’t been so upset at the countless homeless people who’ve shown me incredible kindness.
So I’m safe! But a bit indignant.
Soooooo wrong. So wrong on so many different levels. What actually bothers me most is the way he tried to claim my nickname. Many people I know and love call me “Bella,” and no one—especially a man I met and talked with for exactly thirty minutes of my life—can take that from me. I never even gave him permission to call me by that name, let alone be the only one in my life who can use it. I’d rather him not call me anything at all. I’d rather him not know who I was.
Of course, I’m bothered by the fact the he’s ‘thought about [me] alot,’ but this is where it gets a bit tricky. I’m assuming that he’s thought about me in whatever sick way pedophiles might—might be an extreme assumption, but hey, an old dude I’ve met once pronounces himself ‘incessantly and physically attracted’ to me, when I gave absolutely no reason for him to feel so. Meaning, I was wearing loose-fitting jeans and a practically skiing-size jacket, no makeup, no attempts at beautification. Why would I, when literally going under a bridge to serve and meet with homeless people (in what I boast is a noble act of compassion)?
Anyway, back to his thoughts. Maybe this is why thinking hateful thoughts amounts to murdering someone, and thinking lustful thoughts amounts to committing adultery. I’m likely overreacting, but I feel dirty. Let’s not get myself raped. Or anywhere near a ‘big, tight hug.’
It makes me uncomfortable that someone is thinking about me, considering my body and being, unceasingly: when my thoughts haven’t twitched his direction in days.
But here’s the flip side—I never realized that when I talk to a homeless person, and they’ve shared their life stories, regrets, hurts, and hopes with me, they’ve reasonably handed me a bleeding piece of themselves. Sometimes their thoughts will linger with me (usually not inappropriately), because while I’m freaking out about my next APUSH test or doing pliés at ballet, they’re finding a field to sleep in, or being beaten up, or eating a lonely donut at Mission Possible. And they’ll think about the girl they told everything to, and ponder the everything of their lives themselves. People have told me this—I’m not making it up—but I never considered that I have a responsibility I have after we’ve interviewed, in continuing to exist and breathe and tell the stories I hear. I’m remembered, and it’s fairly my duty to remember them.
Ramiro, I hope I never see you again, and I wish you didn’t exist, and those are selfish thoughts (God loves you, has a plan for you, for me too, but definitely not for us).
(Unless I’m wrong again. I’m not God.)
(Oh, shoot me now.)
Isabella – 11/23/16