Last week I was at one of our garden sites and we were busy harvesting hundreds of pounds of tomatoes when I saw my friend Timmy and this two friends walking by. Timmy is homeless. Timmy has alcohol and girlfriend problems and goes back to both of those things even though they are slowly killing him inside. Sometimes he sobers up and doesn’t talk to the girlfriend… then a few weeks later he is stumbling drunk around Franklinton with girlfriend. Sometimes he goes to sleep on the sidewalk under a bridge on Souder. Sometimes he can’t even stand upright. I have been friends with Timmy for many years now and love him more and more every time I see him, despite the state he is in. I love Timmy more and more because more and more I am able to see what a wonderful man he is. He has an adorable voice with a little stutter and always talks like he is flattered or blushing or something. He always calls us girls “sissy”. Which is what he calls his female homeless comrades, so I have always taken it as a compliment. “Sissy” this and “sissy” that which sounds funny but its how I know he loves and respects us.
It’s been a long long struggle for Timmy and I hope the streets don’t swallow him before he can get off them and really live his life free from the oppression of alcohol and girlfriend.
Anyways… he is always walking around Franklinton and walked past the garden with girlfriend and other friend, Billy on this day last week. I called out for him and the three of them walked up to the fence to stop and talk. They looked so rough and so ragged. Faces red and eyes bloodshot and tired. Dirty, over sized clothes, and broken backpacks. I stood on the other side lookin in pretty rough shape myself. The fence is about 5 foot high. We stood there talking about what they were doing and what we were doing and they were impressed with all the tomatoes we were harvesting. Then they asked if they could have some tomatoes. I found myself really surprised for some stupid reason and quickly ran to get them the most gorgeous tomatoes I could find in the pile. I handed them over the fence, commenting on how it felt like prison sort of, behind the fence. I was wondering what they were going to do with the tomatoes, no utensils or plates or salads to add them to. They packed some in the backpack but then the three of them stood there and bit into each of their tomatoes like it was an apple. Juice and seeds leaking down the front of them, they were in tomato heaven. I just stood there watching them for a minute and wishing that scene was on film because there were no words to depict the scene. It was so holy and so damn beautiful to me. If those were the only three who ate the tomatoes we grew it would be worth it a hundred times over. Spreading the gospel of tomatoes has never felt so rewarding.