“People whom fate and their sin-mistakes have placed in a certain position, however false that position may be, form a view of life in general which makes their position seem good and admissible. . . . This surprises us when the persons concerned are thieves bragging about their dexterity, prostitutes vaunting their depravity, or murders boasting of their cruelty. But it surprises us only because the circle, the atmosphere, in which these people live, is limited, and chiefly because we are outside it. Can we not observe the same phenomenon when the rich boast of their wealth-robbery, when commanders of armies pride themselves on their victories-murder, and when those in high places vaunt their power-violence? That we do not see the perversion in the views of life held by these people, is only because the circle formed by them is larger and we ourselves belong to it.” (Resurrection, Leo Tolstoy, trans. Louise Maude)

New Readers:

Please start reading with my first post "A Cup of Coffee". Originally posted on March 19, the archival date changed when I made corrections on May 13, which is the date under which you can find it now.

I'll learn to manage this all more smoothly someday, but at present I have at most only an hour online each day (that thanks to the San Francisco Public Library system, without which I would be lost).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Traveling Light, Part 2

There are certain things which the bourgeois mind just cannot seem to grasp.

When I got out of County Jail following my second arrest, one of the friends I wanted to get in touch with right away was HG.  When I texted him the news that I was walking out of the jail at 850 Bryant Street, breathing freely for the first time in ten days, he said the strangest thing in reply: "I don't know what I should say to you," he said.

I have been often struck by the fact that HG constantly describes himself as driven first and foremost by Jewish guilt.  He complains all the time about his mother and her oppressive concern with propriety.  (Indeed, as someone whose mother is no longer living, I have found his denigration of her and the bitter feelings he expresses about her made me uncomfortable.)

So at first I took his remark to mean that he felt he needed some formal or conventional words to use on the occasion, that he was searching his mind for something his mother would say to a friend just released from jail.  But his mother, no doubt, would not have a friend who had been released from jail because she would never have a friend who was in jail in the first place.

I have to emphasize here how generous, caring, and helpful a friend HG has been all this year, ever since we first met shortly after I was "kicked to the curb".  While I was looking for a place to live on my own, he has often let me stay at his house, sometimes for two or three nights in a row.  His hospitality was especially helpful because he lives only a short walk from the gift shop where I worked.  And he not only housed me but also fed me on those occasions, too.  He even let me do my laundry at his house, which saved me a meaningful amount of money over the months.  I have to say -- and have said to him -- that HG is a mensch, and his kindness to me was a true mitzvah.

But I notice that since my second stint as a guest of the County Sheriff, in the three or four conversations we have had -- via text, as always with HG -- he has not extended an invitation to come to his house again.  Nor has he responded to my suggestions that we meet for breakfast or lunch.

I am left wondering what it was -- and is -- that he didn't know how to say.  And so another companion on this journey falls to the side, veering off on a different path which may or may not ever cross mine again.

I seem to be traveling lighter all the time.