Just another day in the Westside.
I woke up sick today. I had a fever and runny nose, the works. So I slept most of the morning and missed going to mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe, where I live. I googled real quick and found out that San Fernando Cathedral, one of the most historic and beautiful cathedrals downtown was having mass at 2pm. It was 1:36pm, so I quickly changed out of my pjs & asked Mike if he could drop me off. I would take the bus home.
The Cathedral is beautiful. Although the homily was dry, something that stuck out to me was this homeless, mentally-ill woman came stomping in and sat at the very front of the pews. Many eyes and disturbed faces looked toward her, but she had the biggest smile on her face, as if she was proud that she was going to church. It was difficult to focus on the actual mass, because she kept twitching and engaging in OCD behavior, flattening out her messy bun, picking up her hat, then placing it back on the bench. The most heart-warming part for me to witness was when she went to receive communion. She kept looking around because she didn’t know what to do, but she eventually made her way up the altar, and upon her turn, she received the Body and Blood of Jesus. After going back to her seat, because she was in the front row (with no kneelers), she knelt down on the ground facing the pew and put her head down on the bench with her fingers clasped. I began to pray for her.
After leaving mass, I walked over to the bus stop. It’s a little sketch, despite being right across the street from the Cathedral. Within a few minutes of sitting down, I saw a young guy, around 18, walking down the street passing out dollar bills. He was super high. One man he approached looked at him and said, “I don’t need your money, son.” I was so confused as to why he was giving money away. Did he steal it? Before I knew it, a police officer stopped him, just about 5 feet away from me, and began to question him. The guy was so drugged up, his words were incoherent. He was later taken away.
A few minutes after that, while still sitting on the bench at the bus stop, the same homeless woman from the Cathedral was walking by. She accidently bumped into this other couple that was walking the opposite way. The lady mumbled something under her breath, but she continued to walk with the man. The homeless lady then turned around and began to yell at her, saying, “What did you say about me? You talking about me?” The other woman rudely said, “No, bitch. Shut the hell up and watch where you’re going.”
Before I knew it, the homeless woman began yelling at her, calling her all sorts of names, telling her she needs to lose weight and go to church. She then disappeared into the corner. Before I knew it, the other woman came walking back, looking for the homeless woman, saying, “Where is this bitch? I’m going to set her ass on fire. Does the bitch think I’m kidding? I have a fucking lighter in my pocket.” I looked at this woman, standing a few feet in front of me, as she angrily looked for the homeless woman. The man was following after her, but did not stop her. I began to pray.
In a few moments, the couple returned from the corner, unable to find the homeless woman. They muttered something again, about how she’s lucky she got away or else she would’ve gotten killed. Finally, my bus came.
While on the bus, I witnessed a drug deal happen with an older lady and man in the seats in front of me. There was an exchange of $40, I saw the lady count it with her hands and teeth. The lady was also talking about how she got another ticket, costing $100, but that she ain’t paying the government shit. “I’d rather go to jail. It’s going to get cold soon, I’d rather be in there and get fed anyway.” The two continued conversing, while I just sat there, in awe of everything I had witnessed within that half hour.
This is their reality…which is now my reality.