Originally published on Patreon, Oct. 29, 2017.
I was in Long Beach for TwitchCon last weekend and had a heartbreaking, heartwarming interaction on my last morning there. For context, there's a little shop on the boardwalk full of crystals, sage, and unfortunately outdated native-appropriative merchandise. I bought some pretty rocks, forgot my sunglasses there, returned the next day and bought an abalone shell as I retrieved my sunglasses, and was tempted to visit again on the final morning. I like shiny stuff. Sue me.
I talked myself into walking to a stretch of sandy beach close to my hotel, content to gather a bit of sand and some shells. It was still 9am or so; the beach was near-deserted and the water sparkled. I waded in ankle deep and looked out at the view; it was blissfully quiet and calm. And then behind me, a homeless woman extracted her duffel bag from the rocks nearby and started to drag it to where she and her partner were camping.
I waved and we exchanged friendly "good mornings!" Then, for reasons I do not understand and cannot explain, she said brightly: "You can find crystals all over this beach!"
I started at her for a moment. "... really?"
"Yeah! My car was stolen three days ago- my home - and we've been down around here since. Found a bunch of quartz and I'm pretty sure a ruby!"
I cannot honestly imagine what a look of incredulity I had on my face. I had spent [redacted] at the rock shop, but had not purchased any sort of "I <3 sparkly rocks" tshirts or tote bags. How did she...? Did she really? What!?
Honestly unnerved, I told her I was sorry to hear about her car, and that I hoped her luck would improve. She laughed and said she's used to it, relating a story sad enough that I'd prefer to just not tell it - know it broke my heart. I gave her my water bottle and needed to get to the airport to head home, but she insisted I come with her for a moment.
Rummaging through bags within bags within bags (I can relate) she finally exclaimed and fished out a big 'ol rock. It's no ruby, but a fist-sized chunk of what appears to be white quartz. She grinned and handed it to me, wishing me a good flight and a good life. Her name is Pam. I'm glad that I met her, and I'm really grateful she gave me this rock.