Everywhere we go, we see homeless people. I guess it’s because we’re mainly in the South and it’s warmer here. One evening, walking downtown, we saw two 50-ish aged men haaappily bundling up with their flimsy sleeping bags in a downtown shop’s alcove. Wearing woollen hats and gloves, they were jiggly and jovial, chatting with passers-by merrily as they hunkered down on a cold tile entrance way, utilizing their backpacks as pillows. Yah. It was cold, ya’ll. #Tilemattress,#January,#freezingmyassoff.
Throughout our travels on this trip, we’ve seen temporary encampments, tents and tarps swinging from makeshift roadside camps alongside highway intersections; I saw a woman sleeping on the curb on a cold January night, people nestled into blankets on park benches, a woman slumped over a coffee in a Starbucks having a long, long, deep nap.
Nobody seems to bother with these people, these travelers following a trail that never ends. But they don’t worry about the trail ending. Their needs are immediate: Coffee (or other preferred stimulants), tobacco (or other preferred stimulants/calmer-downers), food, shelter. They don’t look far ahead. They wait calmly for each day to deliver each day to them.
They are the ghosts of society.
Don’t look.Don’t tell.Didn’t happen.
Oftentimes, the Police drive by and don’t seem pretend not to notice. This is the pattern in all the cities we have visited.
I regulary talk with the homeless, they are a blend of folks who are all struggling in one way or another, but they are unique people. They are from all walks of life, they have university degrees, they are artists, they have a lot to offer to our world but they’re so pre-judged because of their nomadic lifestyle that they’ve just basically given up on the entrapments of society.
The main thing I’ve gleaned from the Homeless (who are always pleased to share a conversation and meet Zuma) is that yes, there are shelters and hostels nearby but many will not stay at these places, because 1) “They won’t take my dog” and 2) “I don’t stay in shelters; it’s the people there, too many thieves”. There are options but they’re opting out. I get that. It’s a dog eat dog world, isn’t it? Even though it’s 60-70 F here in the daytime, it’s still pretty darned cold here at night. Especially if your blanket has no more substance than a newspaper.
They are the wounded, the damaged, these travelers, the outcasts of our society. Whether family strife, unemployment, life disaster or mental illness is the reason these wanderers wander, it’s impossible to pass them by and not acknowledge their plight, buy them a coffee or a hot chocolate.
My wise friend C. said to me (words to this effect): “Perhaps they are the wise ones, they have no bills or commitments, they are free to come and go as they please”.
Tonight is the coldest night of February here. No snow, warm sunny days, daffodils bursting forth, Magnolias about to pop their flowers. How.Ever. The temps plummeted here tonight. And my electric space heater in Hula Girl officially kakked. It’s 40F in here, FFFF. I have two other electric heaters in storage and a propane furnace here in Hula Girl so I’m fine. Push a few buttons, I’m good to go.
Thankfully, Zuma and I have each other to keep our backs warm. No wonder the Homeless people won’t sacrifice a night staying in a Shelter without their dog. The gift of touch. They need each other for touch and for warmth …. not just when it’s a frigid winter night, they need each other every night.