Monday, January 23, 2006

Last summer, I spent two months working in the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, the largest soup kitchen in New York. I was primarily stationed in the counselor's trailer, where we received guests who needed any assortment of things, from food to detox to just somebody who would listen to their story. I think about that time often, especially since I am now working in advocacy while some of my roommates work in direct action. Just like I used to.

The problem with this scene is that when I was in New York, I had one of the worst depression bouts in my life - I'd probably say it was the worst. I felt so alone, and the constant contact with people who lived on the street while I went to sleep on a couch, under a roof, every night, started to crack me wide open. I began to think of little else but the soup kitchen, and my normal touristy adventures on the subway and different trips all around Manhattan were seen through the lens of my work. I couldn't escape it, and often, while at work, I would come across some person, or some story, that would leave me breathless.

I wanted to leave. I wanted to stay. I just didn't know what was going on.

Those are easily the words I use to describe my situation now, even though I rarely pass by homeless people in the area I live, and never in the area I work in St. Paul. It's night and day from Chelsea in Manhattan. It's amazing that I would daydream about getting out of the city, congested and suffocating as it was (I even got on a bus to Atlantic City one Thursday, just to get out. That's when you know it's bad - you want to leave to go to a place as fake and freaky as Atlantic City). And now, in a sleepy little hamlet in comparison, I catch myself wondering what's going on at 28th St. and 9th Ave., and wishing I was there.

Weird.

Is hindsight always this annoying? I definitely am finding it hard to make up my mind now, looking at next year and what is beyond Lutheran Volunteer Corps. The choices are all good, but that just makes me more nervous. If they're both good choices, doesn't regret inevitably follow? What if I had never gone to NYC?

Who knows. Will we always wonder 'What if?' Relationships long past, friendships lost and gained, college done and gone. Sometimes I am amazed at how much life I have led, and how little it is in the scope of things. I can't let these things go, though. People tell me I feel too much. "Get over it, move on." My mom always told me I was a part of the world, not just living in it, and that's why I was so 'into' things.

Either way, it doesn't help. I felt those people at the soup kitchen so much that I felt I really didn't enjoy myself in New York. But maybe that was the point. You have to set boundaries for yourself. If I jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, I would have helped no one. The comfort I have had because of my relatively privileged life is something I can't help.

God, I think I outdid myself with this completely nonsensical free-flow discourse.

I'd like to believe my mom, though. For better or for worse - and it seems for the worse lately - I am passionately in this world.

1 Comments:

At 12:43 PM , Anonymous Leslie said...

Jason, you are so right. And I feel the same way about my summer with the kids. I am hating home right now. I am just sitting here thinking about myself and how much I miss school. Ugh. So here is my big question for you. Would you want to go back to the soup kitchen? I am thinking about going to volunteer with my CCN kids, but I am scared shitless. Is it worth it? Or would it kill me? WWJD... What Would Jason Do?

 

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