NAME GAME – Heights, Houston
It’s called the Name Game because the occurrence is too odd to already have a name. My phenomena began so many years ago it’s not possible to determine my age then anymore.
Name Game “ramped-up” in 2006 and 2007 when my brother had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and I lived with him in Houston in the Heights. I was in Santa Fe for the day and I had talked with a lady at our Big Chief grocery. We introduced, shook hands and right away I was struck that she was a different sort of acquaintance than the regular meet-and-greet encounter. Of course, I didn’t understand at the time WHAT exactly was different, just eerily unsettling, making me smile and wonder. She gave me her name as Christine Nelson. She was just a nice lady who helped me buy some of her hand-made jewelries laid out on her table, jewelry made by women recovering in a half-way house from drugs and domestic abuse. We talked extendedly about how they were made, what they were doing to raise money with their half-way house and child care issues, and how, yes, she WAS cold today. So I bought her coffee, sat at her table, and we talked longer. I really didn’t want to leave yet because I was still trying to figure out what the heck was happening about her and I. She helped me so generously and in the end sold me five necklaces at $7.00 each. She did this so generously with a smile, helping me select three items of jewelry on her table. She made a big impression on me. Such a girl, who easily could be seen trying very hard in life to keep her child, live well, and remain totally devoted to the half-way house she had become a part of for one and one-half years. She didn’t understand when I told her, “I think I met you somewhere before.” “Yes, you look familiar too.” We hugged and I left. $35 bucks. Only thirty-five bucks to help other women who were trying to make it with their children in difficult situations. I gave my gifts away that night. I did buy with particular people in mind and made ever so careful selections so as not to be done too soon, or be expected to leave too soon.
Later toward evening that day, travelling home to Houston, the most memorable occasion occurred when I stopped at a stop light at the busiest intersection in our neighborhood, right on the Interstate 45. Actually, this was my exit to Fulton Street, and on to Moore Street. Three women were collecting money with their buckets on the feeder road at my exit and I pulled up next to them while the light was red. One lady began walking toward my car so I rolled down the car window.
The lady walked up to my car on my left and asked me if I wanted to donate to their charity. Normally, that would be a “no” answer, but I noticed her bucket was not imprinted or written upon. I respectfully replied, “Sure. I’ll give you a dollar to find out what you’re collecting for,” and I dropped in my dollar for her bucket.
She began to say, “I am so glad you asked that. My name is Christine Nelson. I have been a drug addict all of my adult life. We are collecting for our “House”. I am in a sanctioned group-home with 11 other women who are trying very hard to stay clean, body, mind, and soul. I am where people love me and my needs are met. I don’t need much, but I am just participating today in helping the others to get by as I have been helped.”
I was quite surprised and really could not explain that immediate queer feeling that told me I was supposed to meet these two women; two women named Christine Nelson, two towns fifty miles apart, two half-way houses, two identical stories, unexpectedly, and on the same day.
I felt pretty good; I KNEW I wouldn’t see either woman ever again. But, I knew enough to pay attention to the odd occurrences and to not assume. This Name Game has always occurred and convinces, validates me, that I was in the places and times I was SUPPOSED to be. It’s like a mile-marker pin-pointing that I was in the right places, where I should have been, and no other places but these.