I have been on the streets for two years now and I have had enough. There is no lower place to go after the streets. Well there is, but you don’t mention it. I have decided to take the plunge and move into one of those charity homes run by the religious nuts. They offer you a room of your own plus meals in exchange for some work. It seemed like a fair deal with the only mild irritant, the potential for a religious discourse, not of your own choosing. And the tendency to agree with any said religious statements through fear of losing the space offered to you. But who am I to complain.
Actually who am I? Well I am a rough sleeper. I sleep on the streets at night. Of course I am not like those drunken bums you seeing embarrassing the rest of us destitute homeless. I have taken to staying away from drunks and druggies and sleep selectively near or outside Churches. I know. It’s heavily ironic that an atheist such as myself seeks protection from a non-existing entity that I have never prayed to, but in the end I have to swallow the bitter pill of gratefulness. And except help from his do-gooders here on earth. If you ask me it was his fault in the first place for putting me on the streets. No. That’s not fair. I can barely remember how I got here and I’m past seeking recriminations for who, how, what ,or why, just surprised I did it. I am amazed that I, or anyone, can actually last so long sleeping on the streets. Begging for money, hoping for food; and a way out of the madness.
I will move into this new home next week and quite frankly I am bricking it. It might surprise you that a homeless person would regret leaving sleeping roughly on the streets, with the cold and rain and fear, and sadness, but something about it grabs you. It’s not like you ask for it. One day you find yourself without a home or a friend you can rely on. And those first few weeks you are just holding on with your finger nails. Praying like mad. (I know, we atheists are such hypocrites.) Then you are forced to accept it. The cavalry is not coming. The angels will not guide a long forgotten friend or family member to a surprise meeting. And then you are just there. Hand out like the rest of them.
Head down full of shame. Embarrassment getting louder with every chink from every penny that drops down. And even at that lowest of low ebbs you have to be grateful. And if God did appear or an angel, at that point, I would have strangled them both but they didn’t. Not for me, or any of the thousands left out on the streets, but still. Be grateful. I suppose the miracle is that you can actually last on the streets for so long and still live; that pounds are dropped in your hat, and coffees are bought, and the taste, joy, and sheer contentment that comes from enjoying that one single cup of coffee. Are so immense.
And then the sun breaks through and you take yourself to a nice piece of grass and lay down your head, and for a while heaven does exist. Still. I’ll be looking forward to that room. That fixed space with a closed door. Sleeping soundly every night. No longer scared. Eating well. It’s just the Christians I’ll need to manage. God love ‘em.