|Free Bear-Hugs at Asbury Park Gay Pride|
1. I want to write.
2. I want to travel.
3. I want to make people feel good.
If I can combine all of those things into one, I will feel some sort of accomplishment.
(I also know for sure that I want to feel safe and secure, but that is a topic for another day.)
Seeing those three things listed in front of me makes it all look so simple. Unfortunately, for a part-time retail worker who doesn't have a clear idea on what's happening in her life from one day to the next, it's not that easy. This time 60 days from now, I don't even know if I will still have a job. I don't even know where I will be living. As of right now, I am making $8.35/hr and working only 10hrs a week some weeks. I'm lucky if most of my paychecks reach $150/week. I spend a lot of time looking for money on the ground, stealing loose change out of the dryer, and asking people if I can keep their pennies in order to have a good laptop to type on and some cash to buy plane tickets with. And in 60 days, I will be evicted from the apartment I live in and won't even know where my cash income will be coming from for awhile. Fortunately, the making people feel good part can be absolutely free.
I have a quote on my wall, my favorite quote actually, spoken by Ella Simms from Melrose Place 2.0. (Shut up. So what if it's a lame soap opera. Ella is awesome!) It says, “Do anything you can, because I promise you, once you do, you won't care how you got there. You're just gonna be really happy that you did.” I've been keeping that in mind lately while trying to afford writing, traveling, and letting people know they're not alone in the world. And so, being broke and often toying with the idea of being a homeless traveler, I recently started 'Free Bear-Hugs'.
It's a fairly simple way to raise money to travel, have something to blog about, and make people feel good.
I have a stuffed bear that you can hug. For free. It sounds kind of dumb until you do it. I've learned that once you ask someone to briefly step out of their comfort zone to be comforted, you open a door of possibilities. Some people leave with a huge smile. Others take a moment to sit down and talk for awhile, the conversation ending in tears. Today, a man sat with me for about thirty minutes, telling me about how he felt as though he was going nowhere in his life because he was grieving over the loss of his sister.
I want to be a listening ear, because I often feel as though I don't have one. I write to make people feel less alone. I travel to meet people to make them feel less alone. I just want people to not feel as alone as I so often do. I don't ask for anything in return. Honestly, provided I had the means to get myself to where I want to be as a writer and traveler, I wouldn't want anything in return from anyone. But I've realized I can't get to where I want to go alone, so I have been keeping a 'Help Me Travel?' jar next to me in case anyone wants to lend a hand. In two days, I've earned roughly $60. I've also received more hugs, kisses, and 'thank you for making me smile's than I can count.
One day, I will be able to make it on my own – doing all that I want to do and more. But right now, I thank everyone who has taken a few dollars to help me out. And I hope that I can use what I've been given for good as I travel to Austin then to Anaheim. Maybe on the train back home, I'll finish the rough draft of my novel and give someone hope with my writing as I've been given hope by the writings of so many others.