Archive | March 1, 2011

Once Were Us

I saw a homeless woman today. She looked the closest to a cave woman I’ve ever seen any person look. Which isn’t meant derogatively, though I suppose it is by default.

But objectively, isn’t that what a homeless person is? Someone who battles against the elements, fights to feed themselves every day and seeks shelter each night?

She had 20 once-white plastic bags around her like a hoop skirt, filled with her collected possessions. It occurred to me that in humans, our need to accumulate things is so imperative, that even those of us with nowhere to put possessions will nevertheless collect them. We haul them with us wherever we go, as if they mark success or stability. Or more truthfully, territory. They are the clothes to reality’s nudity.

Isn’t a homeless person just a human with the least camouflage against the world; against those who would dare to look and therefore, the truest representation of the rest of us? We’d like to believe they are set apart, but the logic doesn’t compute. Probably not too long ago, she had a home in lieu of plastic bags and a job. The homeless give truth to what it means to have no allies. They’re what loneliness looks like.

We’re taught that loneliness is something to guard against – a dirty secret that you should never admit to, even in trust. But loneliness doesn’t merely mark you as an outsider; it’s but one step between a dark day and the black hole which could suck you down … away from the bright lights of the city and into limbo, where the other lost souls dwell.

That’s why we do our level best to keep friends and family in our lives, even if they burn our toast, abuse or malign us. Isn’t that better than being alone? Because, when it comes to the crunch, they may be all that stands between us and the gutter.


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