Some of them act so much like people act
in the places I won’t go.
The hotel room is so much like the place I’d like to get. The carpet, the desk, the bed — I don’t really need a bed. — Just the right amount of space. My space. A bathroom all to myself. Peace and quiet.
And ideally, I’ll have a cat.
Often, the day after a hotel stay, when I get back to the shelter, there’s some culture shock. Friday 17 January, it was severe.
When I came in the door, this stranger in the last row of seats was yelling at the TV. I said, “I’ve got to get out of here.”
- Out of nowhere, the guy behind me in the shower line said, “I’ve been here every day since Thanksgiving last year.” Why would he even say that? I’ve been here almost every day for almost nine years, and I’ve never seen him before.
- There’s a ledge by the water cooler where they keep a cup for each man; they write your bunk number on the bottom. Someone took mine.(*) I came across it later: today those were clear plastic cups, someone left it on the floor in the seating area, and I didn’t see it till I stepped on it as we were leaving for supper.
- Supper is NORMALLY restaurant-quality food, a meal you’d pay $14-$20 for. I kid you not. It makes it hard to want to leave, because I could never cook that way for myself. Tonight, however, supper was one (1) sloppy Joe and a huge brownie. That was it. I can cook for myself better than that.
For the most part, we have a good group of guys. But some — a small number with outsized influence — act so much like people act in the places I won’t go.
I don’t want to be around people whose body language — kinesthetics, a word I recently learned — suggests they’re drunk or high, even if they’re not. All body parts are in constant, chaotic motion. You can’t predict what they might do.
Lexington Market. From 100 yards away, I can see how the people move. I won’t go there.
has ever approached me about Housing First. No one has ever approached me about Rapid Rehousing. I mean, in terms of even giving me a flyer. And the City tracks us, and I’ve been homeless nearly nine years.
Seeking my own place doesn’t just involve work; it involves risk and uncertainty, both of which I am averse to — I assume, like most people. It may take me an indefinite time to find a suitable place, and even then there may be an indefinite wait — while I wait at the best shelter on the east coast, which I sought to get away from.
When I applied for public housing, I was told the normal wait was seven years.
Meanwhile, what do I want?
Clothes I choose. Socks that match. An actual cotton, not polyester, washcloth. Freedom to shower whenever I want, and not have to sit for an hour in the shower line.
A better life is available to you.
If you want it, and will work for it,
you can have it.
Law of Attraction:
If you don’t want it,
you won’t get it.
Postscript: Blinded by the light
This has happened again every day since. There is an unidentified asshole among us who has a grudge against me. It can only be because my custom was, every day they gave us styrofoam cups, to draw a big smiley face on mine, to remind myself to choose to be happy at all times, no matter what may happen, come hell or high water. He resents the fact that I’m not as resentful as he is.
Sometimes in the past, the smiley face has been defaced.