For years, I’ve seen her on the streets of Menlo Park, often pushing a shopping cart piled high with possessions, including scavenged plastic bags, plastic sheets and a dirty sleeping bag. I don’t know her name or her story.
I’ve never seen her in the company of another person: she is a solitary figure, unlike some of Menlo’s other street people who will banter with locals, and cheerily wish us good day near the entrance to Draeger’s or Peet’s.
Sometimes I’ve spotted her in line at Walgreen’s with a few cheap food items in her hands, and other times taking out food from Ann’s Cafe – she never sits in the diner, rather taking her meal from a styrofoam box on one of the benches on the sidewalk on Santa Cruz Avenue, where she sits alone, a few feet but a million miles away from the worlds of the Menloites who walk past.
Last year, I made it my Lenten discipline to reach out and become acquainted with homeless people. That quest led to becoming friends with Victor Frost, a (famously) homeless man in Palo Alto.
This year, my plan is to approach Menlo Park’ street regulars, in the hopes of making a connection, and learning their story, and telling it on InMenlo, in the hopes of bringing people into focus that we often see but don’t know. Off into the wilderness, for forty days…