After having lived there, I always recognize places when the city is on tv. They showed the park where I went running every afternoon. The beach by the Golden Gate Bridge where I took my favorite pictures (see above). I even saw my apartment building with the trolley waiting to pick up riders to head to Market Street (see below). The girl on tv was standing in the same places and seeing the same exact things I did. The girl on tv was great. She was funny and smart and insightful. She had dreams and hopes and a desire to make a difference in the world. In a crazy way, she reminded me of myself living in San Francisco two summers ago. I remember experiencing the beauty of the city and the excitment of the people. I remember a sense of hope and wonder about where my life would lead me next and what I would end up doing. She seemed to have the same feelings.
But her life was completely different than mine had been.
The girl who Jenks was living with for the week was homeless. Actually, I learned, that's not the right terminology. She refers to it as "houseless." This makes sense--no one wants to think they have no home. She was 22 years old an had been on the street in San Francisco since she was 13 years old. She had nothing, except the few things she could carry on her back and a dog named Lucy.
So while we may have been similar in our hopes and dreams, we were completely opposite in our situations. She was houseless, living on the streets. She came from a terrible home life and felt like no one in her life really cared about her. I got to live in a beautiful apartment, that was overflowing pretty much all summer with friends and family who loved me enough to come visit. She never had the chance to go to college. I was on a scholarship to law school. She couldn't get a job because she didn't have an id. I was working at a dream job in a sky scraper downtown.
It's so funny how two people can physically be in the same place, and be worlds apart. What was different between that girl and me? I had been given opportunities and chances and people that made my life go own a different path. She didn't get those opportunities. And that sure doesn't seem fair to me.
I don't know why I got the breaks I did and that girl didn't. I do know that when God gives us much more than others, he expects much more from us. Because of what I have been given, I know that I have a huge responsibility to find a way to give back and to make a difference. Seeing the girl on tv sure reminded me of this in a major way.
So...the next time you are in San Francisco, or anywhere else, and you see a houseless girl on the street, remember that she might be an awful lot like you, minus the good fortune and blessings that you received, yet didn't deserve.
I sure hope that the girl can find a way to make her dreams come true. I hope she changes the world. I know she changed my perspective on things. Maybe that's a start.