Not all Homeless People are Bad
In the Starbucks on the Capitol Square one can peer out of the tall windows at the hulking white marble building. There are always homeless men sitting at the Capitol. It is a regular spot for them right in front of the Starbucks, and one can even be observed sleeping as I watch the city wake. The grass does not grow there.
Last night I slept at the County building. It was a hard decision to make considering I don’t want to associate with certain homeless people.
Not all homeless people are bad. Not all homeless people want to be homeless. Not all homeless people are looking to take advantage of the system.
A lot of these people are just trying to sift through the vestiges of major life crises to rebuild their life. It is hard for me to see the ones that suffer from mental imbalances.
I’m trying to work on my own mental illnesses, and the sights of these mentally ill people make my depression cringe. My anxiety pounds in my chest when I lay up on the black granite of the County building in full view of the pedestrians and vehicle traffic below.
I had to come back to the central location for most of the homeless people in Madison. My second night at the park was very stressful, as I couldn’t sleep until two in the morning because of a group of young men decided to frolic at the park and smoke weed.
I might as well be in the granite arms of the County building. When I arrived at the Capitol Square It was swarming with people everywhere but the area in front of the County building. People were crossing the street to avoid the loud singing and heckling from the homeless that had already congregated on the porch.
I recognize a lot of these people from my eight months of being homeless so far, and it felt good to see one woman who, even when she was not drunk, was always happy to see me. She doesn’t get drunk often however, and I see her as a mentor and a friend.
As an older woman she has health problems like a lot of the homeless in Madison, but she makes it a priority to give back to her community for the sake of making it better. Vocal in the homeless rights committee, this lovely little older lady was first introduced to me while I was in the shelter at the Salvation Army.
I had made up my mind yesterday evening at the free meal several blocks away from the Capitol that I was to peddle my handmade jewelry at the concert at the square. Although I had no luck last night I revel in the pride of sucking in my fear, silencing my anxiety and walking up to numerous people to ask if they wanted to see my goods.
I had to go up to these people, as they wouldn't come up to me next to the County Building because of the loud, boisterous inhabitants.
It was a great exercise to shed my fear and put some work into something I loved with my whole heart. Even the negative voice that wanted to reprimand me for not finding the courage to do the art booths that I paid for last year was silenced.
Not many people would believe this, but I have no regrets at not staying in my old apartment. Living on the streets gives one a certain amount of freedom not found in a shelter or a place that requires monetary compensation to live there.
Although don’t get me wrong, I would love to be able to afford rent and have furniture along with a kitchen to cook food.
Yet I know I have a lot to learn about finding gratitude in the little things in life. The first thing I need to learn is to love what I do and who I am enough that I don’t feel I need to hide it away. Doing crafts and studying just for fun is not something you brag about in the hood.
Last year I didn't think I was living in the hood. I grew up in the projects and the neighborhood I had just lived in in 2013 was nowhere near as bad from what I experienced in childhood. Yet, when my White neighbors let me know it was in fact "the hood" and they would in no way turn their music down at two in the morning, I decided to take their word for it. It seemed after that admission my neighborhood began to show its true colors.
After my failed attempt to hock my handmade goods last night, I sorely limped back to the County building and readied my sleeping pad. I had the same items as the last four nights to lie out for a makeshift bed. After saying goodnight to my sweet friend I lay out on a cleaner surface than what was there last time I tried to sleep there. It was also cleaner than what was at the park.
Just like at the boathouse there is free Wi-Fi, and I perused my phone while I waited for my body to calm enough for sleep. Thankfully enough I was asleep by eleven that night. Unlike the last time I lay up there, the other residents were relatively quiet and I didn’t have to sleep next to the main doors under the bright lights.
I truly hate spiders, and I know the difference between a spider and a daddy-long-leg. At the boathouse there were many of the latter. However when lay up at the County building I am confronted by spider webs, their makers clinging to them, seemingly staring at me with their judging eyes.
The apartment I stayed in before I became homeless became infested with three different types of bugs, despite my best efforts to keep them at bay. Roaches, bed bugs, and biting spiders competed with me and refused to pay rent. When I awoke this morning it wasn’t to itchy burning skin or red blotches from bites.
Instead the cheery voice of my sweet friend nudged my sore, weary body from its pad. While packing up my pad I noticed the mouse that I saw scurrying around the night before had left me presents on top of my black duffle. I will have to sleep farther from the greenery tonight. Here’s to hoping it will be just as quiet, but overall the sacrifice of being next to other homeless people will need to be made. Besides, peeing in the woods just isn’t fun.