One year ago today on my 21st birthday, I was wandering the streets of New York City with an empty wallet and a full heart. I had spent the last 3 months creating myself, pouring salt on open wounds, and finding new things to love.
I decided that I’d spend my last day in the city exploring some place I hadn’t explored yet.
I wandered through the FIT Museum and checked in to my flight home the next day. I stopped at the Europa Café and bought myself a coffee and a cupcake for later.
As I made my way back to the subway station, a saw a woman sitting on the corner with a suitcase and a sign written on a box lid that read “It’s my Birthday, Anything Helps.”
“No way….” I thought. There’s no way it’s really her birthday.
So I walked up and, introduced myself, and I asked her.
She proceeded to pull out her I.D.
Sure thing. August 19.
I smiled. “Its my Birthday, too!”
I’m not lying when I say that I’ve never seen this kind of joy in someones eyes.
I sat down next to her right there on the street corner and struck up a conversation.
We talked about life and love and loss. She told me that she was trying to get back home to Florida. She was trying to escape an abusive relationship.
I have never in my life felt more like I was right where I needed to be. In that moment, on that street corner, with someone born on the same day, going through similar pain. Proof that we are all human. Proof that sometimes we stop and know that we are not where we are by accident. Proof that under the stereotypes and the clothes and the money or lack there of, there is love, pain, happiness, and vulnerability. Let yourself be a human to other humans…
I gave her my cupcake and the cash I had left in my wallet.
I smiled and said “Everyone needs a cupcake on their birthday.”
I wish I would have left her my phone number.
I wish I could have given her more than $5.
I wish I knew how she was doing one year later.
Happy 27th Birthday, Jennifer. I think about you everyday.