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It Used to be Me

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Then I was there. The sun pierced my eyes with light. The Civic Center stretched before me like the Promised Land. I kissed the ground. This place helped homeless people of all kinds get food, jobs, medical care and more and ultimately get a home. People of all kinds swarmed like ants around the building and into the doors. They were so small compared to the huge building. I entered and as the frigid cold swept away, I was striding through the toasty warm building. It was comforting to know there were many, many homeless people besides me. It was comforting to know I wasn’t the only one out there who needed so much help. It was comforting to know so many more people were going through the same things I was going through. “Comfort” is this places middle name.
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I was first in line.
I bit my fingernails. Everyone around me was staring at me as I walked to the desk with a man holding up a yellow flag. Two young girls walked towards me and everything I misconceived about “home people” faded away. They weren’t all crazily fat and dressed in gold. They didn’t wear toothy grins and smile too broadly like they wanted to eat me. They were just like me.

“What’s your name?” one asked, the one with the golden hair.
“Paula,” I answered. I was welcomed, actually not turned away from, not excluded.
The first place we went to was Glasses, to get eyeglasses. It didn’t take that long, and when I got the right one…Bam! I could see the grinning smiles of the people in immaculate detail. I saw the caved-in dimples, the red cheeks, and every single freckle. They were a reflection of me, of my happiness. I might as well have been staring into a mirror.

“Food,” my stomach growled. It was thin and deflating like a balloon. I smelled the scattered aroma of turkey and French bread swirling like a tornado that made me drool. Before long, the two kids had brought me to a table to sit. A person came, asked my order, and…Bam! Food! I just hope there’s no mustard! “No mustard, please!” I pleaded. I inhaled the savory, meaty flavor. It was placed neatly on the table. Yes, no mustard!
“Thank you! You guys are so helpful!” A warm smile spread across my face. I knew my next birthday wish; that everyday could be just like today.



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The memories dissolved into crystals. That was when I was the client. Now seven years later I’m the volunteer. Now I’m giving back to those helped me. Now I’m continuing the cycle. I look the man cleanly in the eye. “Hello, I’m Paula,” I smile. “Who are you?”



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