A few weeks ago, I drove to Skid Row in Downtown LA to hand out waters. I met some nice young white folks at a Von’s and filled my car with hundreds of plastic water bottles (but plastic water bottles aren’t sustainable?! cried White People FB….WE’RE GIVING OUT WATER TO HOMELESS PEOPLE). Myself and a costume designer wandered down a section of streets handing out bottles in the sun. Most people accepted them with undue gratitude, that felt overwhelming to me. One woman, LaToya, took three cases and asked to have her picture taken with us. When someone accused her of trying to sell them she called him a “metal head.” (The organizers told us not to give out cases..but, seriously, what horror could come out of a case of water?)
What stayed with me was the woman who asked for extra water for her three children (most likely hidden from the public in one of the tents), the young pretty woman airing out her tent, doing housekeeping, while her boyfriend came out with his pipe, the guy who asked if I was single and/or had any food, the visibly high woman named “Chocolate” who wanted cases for her five kids, the sense of community, and the smell of urine and garbage.
The heavy load of water in my car ended up putting pressure on a a spray can I bought when I found a piece of tree sap that wouldn’t come off of MY NEW CAR. God forbid, tree sap ruin my day. Unbeknown to me, at the time, the can expelled it’s contents and my car filled toxic fumes. I drove back to West LA with the windows open. My friend Joe later said, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Or, perhaps, no ridiculous obsession with your car goes un-toxified.
After Orlando, and then, this week, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas, I have been uncharacteristically silent. I haven’t gone back to Skid Row. I worry about buying property, being able to afford a plane ticket, losing five pounds. It’s so much easier to worry about that piece of car sap.