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April 17, 2016

The Lost Wallet.

The Lost Wallet. This afternoon, in Boulder, I went for a long walk with three friends in the snow. It got dark, and is getting cold. I’m happy to be home, my dog and I drying off, eating a nice salad (not the dog, he’s chewing a bone from Alfalfa’s) with a vegan pizza in the oven (better than it sounds). I look forward to a cozy snowy Spring night in, watching a movie. Meanwhile, right now, dozens of homeless are sleeping outside in the cold. I saw them–with packs, sleeping mats, bikes–all circling together in the dry area beneath the Library, or striking out for the foothills to find a private place to bed down. Most of them seem well-prepared, with sleeping bags and backpacks. But tonight they’re in my mind a bit more than the usual half-guilty “I’m so lucky, I’m so grateful—others don’t have it so well, they had really rough childhoods, who knows…but something brought them to this.” Meanwhile, half our country, ideologically, is proud not to give a care. I just read dozens of comments on my hometown Daily Camera that savaged and made fun of a City of Boulder plan to train homeless in woodworking, using the countless fallen beautiful century-old elm trees, victim of the climate change-happy never-freezing elm bore beetle scourge. The snowy homeless night is in my mind more than usual because of that long walk with my friends. My ladypal Cate and Elysa and Sarah, at the end of the long walk, got hot chocolate. We ran into Brett, with his baby, getting chocolates for his parents. He’s about to go to Paris with Erin and their baby. They don’t have much money, but they work hard and do meaningful work and have family support (at least in love form) and are raising a darling little baby. Halfway through drinking our hot chocolates–just starting to warm up–Cate let out an exclamation. My wallet! It must have fallen out of my pocket on the walk! We were swinging on a swing set in the snow. We were wrestling. We were shaking flowering trees, heavy with snow, so they wouldn’t break beneath the weight of the still-falling snow. At one point, Cate bent over…read the rest on the front page of elephantjournal.com #homeless #lostwallet #bouldercolorado

A photo posted by Waylon Lewis (@waylonlewis) on

The Lost Wallet.

This afternoon, in Boulder, I went for a long walk with three friends in the snow. It got dark, and is getting cold. I’m happy to be home, my dog and I drying off, eating a nice salad (not the dog, he’s chewing a bone from Alfalfa’s) with a vegan pizza in the oven (better than it sounds). I look forward to a cozy snowy Spring night in, watching a movie.

Meanwhile, right now, dozens of homeless are sleeping outside in the cold. I saw them–with packs, sleeping mats, bikes–all circling together in the dry area beneath the Library, or striking out for the foothills to find a private place to bed down. Most of them seem well-prepared, with sleeping bags and backpacks. But tonight they’re in my mind a bit more than the usual half-guilty “I’m so lucky, I’m so grateful—others don’t have it so well, they had really rough childhoods, who knows…but something brought them to this.”

Meanwhile, half our country, ideologically, is proud not to give a care. I just read dozens of comments on my hometown Daily Camera that savaged and made fun of a City of Boulder plan to train homeless in woodworking, using the countless fallen beautiful century-old elm trees, victim of the climate change-happy never-freezing elm bore beetle scourge.

The snowy homeless night is in my mind more than usual because of that long walk with my friends. My ladypal Cate and Elysa and Sarah, at the end of the long walk, got hot chocolate. We ran into Brett, with his baby, getting chocolates for his parents. He’s about to go to Paris with Erin and their baby. They don’t have much money, but they work hard and do meaningful work and have family support (at least in love form) and are raising a darling little baby. Halfway through drinking our hot chocolates–just starting to warm up–Cate let out an exclamation. My wallet! It must have fallen out of my pocket on the walk! We were swinging on a swing set in the snow. We were wrestling. We were shaking flowering trees, heavy with snow, so they wouldn’t break beneath the weight of the still-falling snow. At one point, Cate bent over and tried to swallow away her hiccups. So, you know, her wallet could have fallen out at any one of those points, or anywhere else.

I immediately set out with Redford, my dog, half jogging and scanning left and right, steadily, like Arnold in Terminator. The snow was falling–if the wallet, a beautiful tan wallet with gold leaf inset (made in Firenze, of course) had fallen sideways into the snow, even a little snowfall could have obscured it by now. So I moved fast. Also, bit by bit, it was getting darker–it was already 7 pm, or something. I didn’t find it along the street. I traced our path, crossing the street, until the bike path below the mountains. Didn’t find it there. Any footsteps in the snow, I searched those. We were all over the place, shaking those trees free of snow.

I didn’t find it in the park, either–or by the swingsets. That was a blow–a place I figured the wallet easily coulda fallen out, as she swung forward in the swing. I didn’t find it in the big field, either. Somewhere around there she’d leaned upside down trying to get rid of those hiccups. I texted her–no luck–going East–you all should come from the other direction. It’s getting dark, move fast! Something like that, anyways.

I didn’t find it along the bridge, or the bike path. I followed the walk along the creek. Homeless were everywhere, moving fast before the falling dark, the snow falling too, cold. I bet one of them picked it up–that was another major danger. Any random hiker coulda picked it up, too, of course, but then the hiker woulda likely called Cate with their cell phone. Maybe homeless didn’t have cell phones, although I know for some it’s now their lifeline.

I didn’t find it beneath the trees–I traced our steps beneath all the flowering trees…and then I followed some footsteps in the snow, which led off from our path, to a picnic table…where the footsteps stopped. And there, in the snow, on the picnic table…was her wallet, sitting up, open. The footsteps headed off in the other direction.

I took it, happy–but concerned–it was almost empty. I texted Cate, dictating, my hands too wet and cold to type easily–found it! But it’s almost empty. We arranged to meet at Alfalfa’s, the grocery store–I could buy cold wet happy Redford some dog bones there before heading home to get dry, warm, and watch a movie over dinner. Sarah and Elysa and Cate set off from Sarah’s house to meet me at Alfalfa’s.

As I walked there, I saw more homeless, all huddled together, at the Library. I walked to Alfalfa’s, and shopped, then waited outside. Cate and her besties rolled up. Cate and I hugged and smooched and she said thank you! But I said, check the wallet before thanking me much, make sure everything’s there, it’s pretty empty. Everything was there.

We all parted ways–the girls going to get dinner. I’m writing this at home, a home I nearly lost to foreclosure. I grew up poor. I’ve earned what I have. But I also had a sweet mom and a good community and a great education.

And tonight there’s a homeless man (the footsteps were big) who didn’t have a phone who left a wallet without taking anything, who is sleeping outside, in the snow, in the dark, in my hometown.

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