Hospitality

When I was like 12 years old I got lost while going for a walk. It was summer time and really hot out (I know some people may think it’s always cold in Canada but it does get hot here, like 35C / 95F, in the summer). I walked around for hours. At first it was okay. I liked seeing the houses and kids playing outside. I knew I would find my way home eventually and it was such a nice day out for a walk. I wandered into a rich suburban area where the houses were big and all looked the same. I wasn’t wearing a hat or sunblock. When I first noticed my skin burning I decided to head for home, thinking I knew the direction. But all the dead-end streets that round the houses in a semi-circle got me confused and disoriented. I was walking in circles and all the houses and streets looked the same.

My head began to hurt from too much sun and I was desperately thirsty. There was a woman outside talking to the neighbour while their kids played on the front yard. Her front door was open and the kids were running in and out, with popsicles. I didn’t want to ask for water, or anything, but I had no choice, I wasn’t going to get home any time soon, even if I knew the exact direction, it would still take me at least a half hour. And I couldn’t go another half hour in the hot sun, without water.

So I went up to the lady. She stopped smiling and looked defensive as I approached, like I was some teenager who was about to throw eggs at her house or swear at her. I told her I’d been walking for a long time and couldn’t find my way back to (name of street where I lived). I ASKED if I could please go inside her house just to sit down and get out of the sun. She gave me this look of distaste and pointed out which direction my street was, only seven or eight blocks she said. She didn’t offer me water. Her snotty, big-eyed children stared at me with their popsicles and juice boxes in hand.

I can’t begin to describe how I felt that day. I swore to myself that I would never, ever ask anyone for help again, ever. When I finally reached home my face was lobster red. My head hurt so bad I thought I’d die. I took lots of headache medicine. More than the recommended dose because I wanted it to put me to sleep. I could go on telling you about the severe sunburn and the feverish, sleepless nights I had that week due to the bad burn I got, but that’s not the point.

I’ve held onto my promise that I would never ask anyone for help, no matter how bad things got, until now. It might be time to try again, but I’m not sure who to trust yet

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