My Family is Right Here

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Barbara, 1948-

“These are my real friends, they never let me go hungry. Before, I didn’t have that, but now I know where I can go.”

A person I admire? Sen-Sen, the lady who works at the store across the street. She didn’t give up on me. She opened me up to church. She would give me gifts on my birthday, I never got gifts for my birthday before. She would help me with money for my meds. Also, the lady who works at CB2, she never fails to help. She invited me to her house on Thanksgiving.

Oh, this is Michael from the jewelry store over there. She hails an older man crossing the street, who greets her back. He’s another one. I was so dirty and nasty and filthy; dirty clothes, dirty hair, dirty nails. He lifted me up. Because of him, I told myself, I’m gonna make him proud! I went into a program. Got back respect for myself. And I keep fightin’!

Not an hour later, she lights up when a man and two women, one dressed in nurses’ scrubs, stop to greet her. See these people here? This woman here, she saved me, God bless her! She helped me when I was still covered in dirt. The three work at a nearby Kaiser facility, they explain. ‘It’s a pleasure to know her,’ the man says and they continue on their way.

I’ve been here on this Street for years, I know many people. So many. These are my real friends, they never let me go hungry. Before, I didn’t have that, but now I know where I can go. This is my family, right here! Yeah! She hails a man from across the street, ‘I’m having a big day, baby!’ She calls out. The man smiles, she turns back and says, ‘His wife owns Café Rogue, also good people!’

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