Whenever I would see overweight people living on the streets; judgement would rear her ugly head. "They obviously aren't missing any meals, now are they?" That's my inner voice. I mean, how could one be fat, overweight or obese, if they are living on the streets, I thought. Aren't they hungry all the time?
I first saw Zulu, while crossing the street on Rose Ave and Lincoln Blvd in VeniceBeach, Ca. This was quickly becoming my new routine since moving from Santa Monica, Ca to run the new alkaline water store that was due to open up in Venice. I'm sure I was on my way to either Whole Foods or GroundWork Coffee House. He walked up and stood next to me, holding onto what looked to be the largest and longest skate board I'd ever seen. He was brown skinned, portly, short in stature, rocking a twisty-like-dread locked hairstyle. He gave me nothing. There was no eye contact. He sort of reminded me of myself, when I want to be invisible and to be let off the hook from having to connect. He had no interest in connecting with Fee King. How could that be? Something obviously had to be wrong with him, I thought. LOL
“Do not avert your eyes. It is important that you see this. It is important that you feel this." Kaman Kojouir
Months would pass by before Zulu would speak to me. I remember as if it were yesterday. I'd just hired Shakespeare, another young street kid. I had no knowledge that Zulu and Shakespear knew one another; let alone were friends. However, I should've known. Most people who are living on the streets, either know one another or know OF one another. Shakespeare and I were on the back patio of the water store going over some of the operations of the store. Zulu walked through the front door of the store, passing through the store and made his way onto the back patio to give Shakespeare some dap. He gave me no eye contact; yet again, as he proceeded to engage in conversation with Shakespeare about being an indigenous black man, who is entitled to reservation pay. I had enough of Zulu's shenanigans. My mother taught me, as a young girl, to always address a person when you enter their home. Their home being a store, restaurant, or any other type of establishment. Zulu had entered my home failing to both acknowledge or speak to me. This had to stop and stop it did. Before I could take back my words, they were spilling off of my tongue and out of my mouth. "Excuse me! Hi." He looked at me as if to say, "Lady, what is your problem. "Are you okay." I then said, "I see you all the time and you never speak. "Now you come into MY store and you still don't speak. "That is rude." He replied, "Oh sis. "My bad...I'm sorry." From that day forward, Zulu and I were friends.
He would peek his head into the water store nearly every morning to say hi and ask me, "You good?" He would ask as if he were truly sincere. I always got a chuckle out of Zulu's stories. He told me that he wasn't black. That he was an Italian Citizen. He has twin daughters; both of which are blonde with blue eyes. Zulu told me that he owned a house not too far from the water store. It was empty because he got tired of people breaking in. He could tell a story without flinching his eyes. His story's were believable. Zulu was always adorned with what appeared to be expensive jewelry: crystals and such. He slept a few doors down from the water store; which meant he slept only a few doors down from where I lived. Zulu was the first person on site the day a truck barreled out of control and ran into the walls of the water store and came only a few feet from potentially hitting me. He rushed into the store in a panic and asked me over and over, "Fee - you good?" "You okay?"
Most mornings upon leaving my loft to grab a workout and then a coffee, Zulu would be the first person's face I saw. He was now relegated to sleeping at the beach, due to being kicked out of the doorway area of the medicinal marijuana store he use to sleep at, due to some street drama. This meant, he would have to walk seven to ten blocks from the beach to St. Joseph's homeless facilities center for his morning shower and food voucher. He obviously was an early riser; as he was sitting on the back step of the center by the time I would be leaving my house around 6:00. I'd offer to bring him back a cup of coffee when I returned to get ready for work. Often times I would forget; which meant I would give him $3 or $4 to grab himself a coffee.
Ever wonder why street people, the homeless and even poor people living in under served areas can manage to become overweight? Me too. It's called The poor people diet. Fast food, high calorie, high fat and low nutritional value snacks bought at the local $1 store, has to be the most nutritionally devoid food known to man. Imagine not having the privilege of eating three meals day; let alone eating everyday. When that occurs, the body holds onto whatever food it does get, when it gets it and stores it as fat; to prevent itself from starving. This is why so many poor people are fat.
I had the great pleasure of saying my goodbyes to Zulu a couple of weeks before my relocation to Orlando, Fl. I was shooting my Run...PRAY...Heal intro video in his hood - on the beach. He asked me to come back to see him again and to bring him some new underwear. Yeah! I know. Sounds random, huh? He asked me to do that, because I have bought him underwear, socks and a t-shirt in the past. It wasn't because he asked. It was because I offered. Zulu, rarely asked me for anything, outside of a shower. I liked Zulu and hoped he would get off of the streets. I also felt guilty for being Zulu's friend or associate or whatever you want to call it. Besides occasionally allowing him access to my loft to take a shower, lunch here and there, hiring him to clean the store a few times and and a cup of coffee on occasion - I had know idea how I could've helped Zulu get off the streets. Although he shared with me that not having a license or photo ID was the only thing holding him back, I'm not quite sure if Zulu ever had intentions of living on the inside.
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