I've been on the streets for a week now. Had been living in my car, but they repo'd it yesterday. That sucked. I was sleeping in it at the time. I quit my job yesterday, too. Still have some money in the bank, but not enough to do anything. Anyway, I'll be geting a nice severance check, so that'll help, but the bill collectors still need their money. If they can find me, that is.
Finding food wasn't a big problem. Turns out one of the local restaurants leaves some good stuff out back every night. Once you wash some of the gunk off it, it's okay. Plus the soup kitchen stays open every day, so sustenance is not a problem.
And the library's open most of the time. I can still get on the internet and check my email, facebook, and play games. Just can't be enthusiastic about it or they'll kick me outta there.
I keep looking for a new job, but with no home, it's tough. I have a prepaid cell phone that I keep charged up so people can contact me.
I lost everything, not just a tv or a computer, but personal stuff that means something to me, like old family photos and scrapbooks. Took what I could before they threw me out, and when they took the car, I salvaged what I could into a plastic bag. Gotta get me a backpack.
My family doesn't know I'm out here. Why worry 'em? They've got enough problems. They don't need to worry about me. I'll be all right, I guess.
Well, I still have a notebook and some pens, so I can still write. Keeps me sane. I have all day to pen my thoughts. It's liberating in a way.
Last night was pretty cold. I stayed awake all night, shivering outside of the 7-11. They never throw anybody out of their parking lot. I even got a free Slurpee from one of the employees. Shame it was cherry-flavored. I hate cherry.
Went to the library as soon as it opened and slept a few hours. I woke up around noon, walked to the soup kitchen and got a meal. I managed to wash my face and hands and underarms, change shirts, and made myself somewhat presentable, then went back to the library.
It's kind of boring being out here alone, but also it's illuminating. I see people I know that don't want to talk to me because I'm now a bum. That's to be expected, of course, because if I were them, I wouldn't want to talk to a bum, either. My face and hands are clean, but my clothes still stink, and I haven't shaved in days. So I get it. Still I wish one of them cared.
I walk out at 5:00. It's almost time for supper at the soup kitchen. I managed enough change for a bag of Fritos to keep me going till then. Time to go mingle with the great unwashed, mainly me. Guess my superiority complex didn't die when I lost my home. I still think I'm better than everybody else. Hey, I'm surviving.
Dinner was bland, but filling. Guess I'll go to the shelter and see if there's an opening. Could always use a shower and a warm bed. While I'm walking over, I meet a coupla guys I know who are in the same boat, and we all decide to go over there together. It's still early so we might get lucky.
We do. There's enough beds for all of us. I take a shower after checking in. It's the little things like the feel of hot water cascading over you and the warmth and serenity you feel as it continues. The peace and quiet, listening to the water, and then the yelling from someone saying you've been in there long enough. So much for serenity.
The shelter offered me some clean clothes that sorta fit. The shirt's a little small, but it's clean, and the sweat pants are a little big, but that's what they have drawstrings for. I notice someone has been riffling through my bag. I yell at him, he yells back, and we almost go at it, but the people there tell us to stop it or we'll get kicked out. We apologize to each other, and that's that. I put my bag under my pillow and decided to take a nap. Nothing else to do, may as well.
I wake up in the middle of the night. The place is dark, save for a hall light and a small 40-watt bulb in the bedding area. Lots of people here. I lay back and wonder why God has cursed me so. I'm not Job. I'm me. And I create alternative histories of my life in my head where I am somebody and have nice things. And a home.
I wonder how everybody else ended up here. Bad luck, drugs, alcohol dependency, laziness. And some people are just so incorrigible that there's no other place for them in society. They belong here. I don't see anyone like me, with potential, who could drag themselves out of this situation if they could only see the light, or had a little help. But then again, they're all like me because we don't have any other place to go.
I go to the bathroom and wash my face, and look in the mirror. I see a sad face, a face of bewilderment and quiet desperation. Is this what I've become? Lord help me.
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