I Just Got a Kick in the Gut

Well, I just got a kick in the gut.  It’s kind of hard to explain in this forum.  But I’ll put some of it out there and trust that you can see where I’m coming from.  I’m going to leave out some details, ’cause despite it all, I still consider him my friend.

I’ve got a friend in town.  He’s been homeless by choice for three years.  He’s always camped out since I met him.  Stayed in his tent outdoors in all kinds of weather.  Rain, snow, sun…didn’t matter.  He refused to find an apartment or to get a bed at the mission.

I trusted him.  I still do.  When I went to the Outer Banks for a couple weeks in December, I gave him a key to my apartment so if the weather got too bad for him, he’d have somewhere inside and warm that he could crash at.

Found out this afternoon that he was picked up by APD (Asheville Police Department) this morning on an outstanding Federal Fugitive Warrant from another state.

Even the name I’ve known him by for almost two years isn’t his real name.

One time he and I were walking to the mission together for dinner.  For some reason I thought I saw a good photo in the making so I lowered my lens on him.  Before I could press the button, he held up his hand and told me he didn’t want his picture taken.  He wasn’t angry or belligerent — just asked me in a friendly way not to take his picture.

I put the camera down, smiled and asked, “What’s wrong dude?  You wanted somewhere?”

Little did I know.  But I tell you this…he’s still my friend and if he were to ask me to do something for him today — I would.  As long as his request wasn’t illegal, immoral or unethical, I’d be there for him.  That’s just what friends do for each other.

So what’s the point of this blog?  I’m not sure.  We all have people whose life journey’s intersect with ours for a season.  Every so often we’ll run into someone who isn’t what they appear to be.

We can choose to become jaded and always look for the bad in people or we can remain open and enjoy the colorful characters who make this journey an adventure.

We’re going to find whatever it is we look for.  Me?  I’m going to continue to be open and receptive to the folks that the Creator chooses for me to run into.  Life’s more fun that way.

Even with an occasional “kick in the gut”.

Jerry Nelson is a freelance photojournalist living in Asheville, North Carolina. He has traveled the world documenting the tears, joys, laughter and lives of people everywhere. He currently focuses his camera on the same topics in America. His work has appeared in such diverse publications as USAToday, CNN, Upsurge, Dream Row and others. A portion of his income from each photo shoot is donated to organizations that help the homeless in the communities in which he works. You can see more of his photography by clicking here.

5 thoughts on “I Just Got a Kick in the Gut

  1. At first, I wanted to make some dumb reference to an old tv show, but in truth, this is a very compelling story.

    I don’t know why your friend is a fugitive, but there may be a good explanation.

    There was a recent story of a young man who was detained on suspicion of working with terrorist organizations. He was an American-born student who converted to Islam and went abroad on a study Visa. He was detained for a half a month before being released and is still fighting to clear his name.

    Hopefully, you friend is in a similar predicament and can find his way out. If not, I hope for your sake that he’s the guy who walks down the road during the closing credits – that’s usually the good guy.

  2. You are a very good friend Jerry…and a very good person. I like to think our Creator puts everyone in my path for a reason…or I in theirs…I am usually the one that needs to learn something.

  3. It’s true we never really know people. What they maybe capable of or what motivates them.

    I knew a woman who was so ashamed of her body and self image she would never allow a camera to be focussed on her. Much later she finally revealed who had been taking pictures of her as a child and for what purposes.

    Your friend I knew a little too. Very little. His is honorable, respectful and grateful to you and others I saw him with. Whatever has caught up with him, I hope it does him no more harm than the self prison he’s kept himself in for who knows how long.

    He will always be the person you knew. I think he was changed. I wish his life well and your heart to heal from the surprise.

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