Good People

Good People - Good People just out there in the world, in North Lexington, in NoLi, just doing their thing, varied as it may be, trying to do the best they can at it - I have met so many Good People, with so many stories, so willing to share them, some so heartbreaking, offered up without any pretense or preamble, stories of hardship, addiction, persecution, discrimination, or just stories of wisdom: an elderly man sitting on a bench downtown telling me how important it is to take care of yourself, of your own body, to make that self-respect an example to your kids. He yells out "I recommend olive oil" after we have parted ways.  Or a jovial little middle-aged woman telling me how she walks and walks, walks all day, picking up trash as she goes, and how she bruised her arm dumpster-diving (perhaps while a bit intoxicated), and how she was so afraid people would think it was her husband who bruised her, rather than the lid of the dumpster coming down on her arm.  Or a young couple excited to get their son back from the state's care now that they have cleaned up their lives and gotten sober and stayed that way for over a year.  Or a middle-aged man whose whole family came up all on one short street, his mother and her 11 sisters, and how the street had changed over time, good and bad and back and forth again, and how he was the only one still there, riding his bike, manuscript under arm, a retired electrician turned essayist, standing with me recalling he and his friend playing chess on the front porch of a burned-out house we are watching mercifully be torn down. Or the 30-something man who wants to move out of his mother's house, to provide a place of his own for his daughter, but sees the challenges in being an ex-con, then stops and corrects himself - "previously incarcerated" is the appropriate phrase, he tells me. And so, here stands this or that Good Person before me, a smile on their face, telling me their story, a snippet from the middle of their personal story of struggle and searching. And they are perhaps a bit skeptical (and rightfully so) at the prospect of what I am telling them we want to try to help them with - to own a house. Yes, own their very own house. A new, well-built, energy efficient house. But, as if that wasn't enough, I tell them we also want to do so much more than that: we want to design it in a way that suits them (at no additional charge to them); we want to build it for them, to make it respond to their life and circumstances, to how they live, what business or craft or art they want at their core to pursue, to make their work.  There are so many Good People out here in this place, walking and biking and driving and riding from here to there each day, paths traced regularly or sporadically through time and space. And I keep meeting more and more of them each day - not perfect people (for who among us are?) but Good in that they want better, want to move on to that next level, that next chapter, to move beyond the tribulations of the right now into a future that might be better. Good People. 

[KMN]