Monday, August 26, 2013

Who is Homeless?

When people think of homelessness, an image usually comes to mind. Not usually any of the following images.


 









When one google's the word "homeless" photos of mostly men show up.  Dirty, no shoes, raggedy clothes..living on the streets, storing worldly belongings in precious shopping carts.

One can become homeless overnight if you are living paycheck to paycheck.  If you don't have a permanent address, you are homeless.  So, you are sleeping in the back room of a friends house?  If it is not permanent, you are homeless. It feels like shit. It feels like you are invisible...doesn't it?  Don't make waves...sneak here, sneak there. Have lunch with old friends and choose a salad only...make it up as you go along.

You could be just out of high school or still in elementary school.. or just entering retirement where at one time you dreamed of leisure, at last.  Nobody can tell.  You feel shame about it and it is your biggest secret. 

You've done everything right..except be born to parents who lost their jobs or were into drugs so you got out of the house as soon as possible. Maybe you got really sick and it took all of your life savings to fight to stay alive..only to wish you were dead.  

Your car is filled with what you have left..your furniture is in storage until you find a place but you are behind on the rent there.  You carry with you your most beloved "stuff".  A few cookbooks, a couple of well worn cast iron pans, a grate from your oven, a rolling pin, layers of clothing but you don't wear them all at once.  Thinking about it makes you laugh.  At least you can still laugh.  You have good underwear too..very important in case you end up in the ER.

You wander through the sunny farmers market in your good jeans and Talbot sweater, Marc Jacobs sunglasses, and that hat you bought in Spain eons ago.  You have just enough gas in your old car (sold the Acura for money over a year ago) to get to the room you rented for 3 weeks. "I'll buy some tomatoes and peppers.. serve it over microwavable rice".  

Many people are homeless.  You pass them on the street or at the farmers market..or in the park as they swing..or on the bench as they rest.  Many, taking a break from the constant worry and humiliation that comes from finding yourself in this precarious position in life. You...the planner and most generous friend to all.

  "Well, I survived cancer"....and you begin to laugh until warm tears roll down those rosey cheeks.

6 comments:

Tara said...

heartbreaking, Mel. I had a conversation recently with a homeless young man who seemed quite sweet but clueless. He and his little dog are camping out in Sac, he is looking for work at Mac Donalds, because that is where he has worked before. But of course they don't pay enough for him to rent a place. It's a lousy situation that far too many of our citizens find themselves in. Your writing about it is poetic.

Tara said...

heartbreaking, Mel. I had a conversation recently with a homeless young man who seemed quite sweet but clueless. He and his little dog are camping out in Sac, he is looking for work at Mac Donalds, because that is where he has worked before. But of course they don't pay enough for him to rent a place. It's a lousy situation that far too many of our citizens find themselves in. Your writing about it is poetic.

Melody Elliott-Koontz said...

Thank you Tara. It is heartbreaking..and I know the person I am writing about. It makes me sick..sad..and mad as hell.

Joanna Jenkins said...

So very sad.
I read an article in the Times the other day that said more than 30% of the homeless population are from the Foster Care system. Talk about an epic fail on humanity.
This is a heartbreaking post but one I think we all need to be aware of an talking about-- to HELP!
xo jj

Melody Elliott-Koontz said...

Yes Joanna! Epic fail.

I need to come over to your place.

Melody Elliott-Koontz said...

Yes Joanna! Epic fail.

I need to come over to your place.