Throwing Shade

Why #blessed is not a designer bag or monogrammed outfit

Amanda and Austin Perez of Biloxi walk on the boardwalk at Lighthouse Park in Biloxi on Wednesday, July 1, 2015.
Amanda and Austin Perez of Biloxi walk on the boardwalk at Lighthouse Park in Biloxi on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. File

The sun was shining, the wind was blowing and my belly was churning Saturday morning as I woke up 15 minutes late (shocker) and grabbed a bottle of water and no breakfast before hurrying out the door of my apartment.

I moonlight as a photographer for extra cash for bills and student loans. OK, so that was a lie. I kind of use it for bills and student loans and kind of use it for dinner dates with Bae or new clothes. Over the weekend, I had scheduled quite a few 15-minute photo shoots and was booked with families from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

I arrived at the first location, Lighthouse Park in Biloxi, right at 9:55 a.m. and set up to snap my first family — two close friends from high school and their beautiful baby boy.

We moved around a lot on the bridges that run through the beautiful green spaces to capture good light, and every time I turned a corner I left something behind. You see, I’m what most people would describe as a hot mess.

At one point, my wallet, cellphone and camera bag were left in the park while I walked the family back to their SUV. As I saw a man walk up to the bridge, I immediately ran back to get my stuff.

He told me hello as he walked past, and I nodded and smiled while gathering my things. I immediately felt bad that my first reaction when seeing someone approach my things was running to protect them as if he was going to take them. I acted like it was his fault that I was so forgetful. I get so mad when people lock their doors when they’re in the wrong neighborhood or criticize parents for the way their children are dressed, but here I am, blaming a man for my problems.

Fast forward two hours. I had an hourlong break before my next family came to have their pictures taken, so I sat on a bench at the park to take in the scenery. I realized the man I had met earlier was sleeping nearby. He and two other people were walking the park and left their blankets and sleeping bags behind. When they came back, I asked if they were sleeping nearby. They were, and their blankets had gotten soaked overnight when the sprinklers came on. We talked for a while, and then we shared a lunch of McDonald’s chicken nuggets.

No, it’s not on my diet, but there’s always a right time to treat yourself.

It’s Dec. 1, and I know myself and thousands of others will be using Facebook to show off how #blessed we are. Roofs over our heads, monograms on our kids’ smocked outfits, matching wallets to go with our Michael Kors bags and the piles of gifts perfectly stacked under Christmas trees are going to flood our social media feeds the next month.

But is that what makes us #blessed? Is that what people really think brings joy and happiness?

For three people who don’t have homes and sleep where they can in places less than two miles from my home, #blessed is waking up every morning to sunshine and the chance to see the light of day.

It’s funny what you can learn on a park bench with a 20-piece chicken nuggets. I had never felt more #blessed.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J