Hey, even the Mona Lisa is falling apart – Tyler Durden
Some advice for those of you who may someday find yourselves homeless. Consider these pointers, if you will:
- If you're going to be without residence anytime soon, try to make sure it's not in the middle of a winter storm. Sarcastic advice, I know, but true nonetheless. An icy mix of sleet and freezing rain makes life so much more difficult. Just imagine trying to pick up a fully loaded shopping cart and carrying it over snowdrifts, and you'll get my point.
- You're a troll now. Live like one. Bridges, overpasses, nooks and crannies underneath decks. These are your friends. They provide shelter from rain, ice, snow, or whatnot, and, if you're lucky, also shield your "stuff" from prying eyes.
- "Stuff" rules, unfortunately. I've hated material possessions most of my adult life. I thought they drained my soul. I've given up all my "things" at the end of relationships so many times that my wife used to say I was like a snake shedding its skin. Now, one of my single greatest concerns is how to make sure nobody steals the "stuff" I need to stay alive. Go figure.
- Newspapers are your friends. And not just for the words, although a little escapism from time to time is nothing to sneeze at if you're homeless. No, you can also use the newsprint to: (a) stuff in your shoes when they're wet to dry them out faster; (b) crush and stuff in your coat or sleeping bag to keep you warmer; or (c) lay out flat to keep your blanket and clothes clean at night.
- Coffee shops, bakeries, and similar gathering places will keep you alive. This is not a joke. Any place that will let you sit in the corner all day, order a bagel and soda, and get refills all day long, while at the same time keeping you warm, is a godsend. Plus, the constant human interaction swirling around you will remind you why you're trying to survive in the first place. Which leads me to my next point . . .
- Don't lose your soul. I had outlasted the worst ice storm to hit D.C. in ten years. Sleeping under the deck of a nursery school, I resolved to move before the kids came back from their snow day. Loading my "stuff" into a purloined shopping cart, I began the 3-mile trek to my new destination. On my way, I watched the sun rise, showering the freshly fallen snow with a million stars.
After about a half-hour, I heard a young boy's voice call out from behind me. "Hey mister, where are you going with that shopping cart?"
I looked up, wearily. The young boy was dressed for sledding, with a fiberglass sled nearly twice his height. All I could think of was surfing.
"Just taking it down the road a ways . . . Hey, nice sled."
The boy grinned a smile wider than his face. Holding his sled aloft, he shouted "I know! Isn't it cool? I'm going sledding!"
I stopped, turned, and gave him the biggest thumbs-up I could manage. Smiling, I answered "Cool, you have fun, and be safe!"
Grinning, the boy turned and ran up the hill. Now, I could have been grumpy and pissed off -- and ignored this boy -- but then look at what I would have lost.
- You aren't your CV anymore. With all apologies to the movie, this is kind of a no-brainer. I've got a current CV I've been pimping out, and, oddly enough, it fails to mention the fact that I'm a homeless drunk. Not lying, per se, just not the "whole truth."
If you're homeless, it means that there was a disconnect between your former life and who you really are. Accept it, and move on. That former life is over.
- Don't lose your cell phone. Crazy as it sounds, you may well find yourself homeless weeks, or even months, before your cell phone dies. Grab that thing like a life preserver -- it may well be your last link to modern society.
- Take a good, inspirational book with you. I've got two. The Bible, and "Gates of Fire," a book about Thermopylae. The first tells me how to live, the other, how to die. Enough said.
- Stop lying. To yourself and to others. I could give you a million reasons why I am where I am. "My job as a litigator crushed my soul." "My wife's illness broke my heart." "My unexpected fatherhood scared the hell out of me."
But it's all bullshit. I'm homeless because I'm a drunk. And not some romantic, Hemingway-style drunk, but a blackout drunk who spits out the meanest words you've ever heard, then can't remember them the next day. That's why I have no friends -- just contacts. That's why I live under a bridge -- instead of with my wife and son.
And the sooner I admit that to myself and try to do something about it, the better my chances of ever seeing my wife and son again. And that's all I have to say about that.