Archive for October 7th, 2008


True, I will not contest that my life is not exactly how I wish it to be.  I will not contest that I am not exactly as happy as I could be.  I will not contest that I am very frightened about my future.  Right now, I am trying to listen to my beloved Tallis Scholars to block out extraneous noise, to try and relax, no matter how awful I still feel and forge ahead with searching for a job.

In one post I wrote back in the late spring, I said I would: “…end up penniless and homeless on the street!”

I think I wrote it both out of fear and facetiousness even though I was speaking about where I am now.  In rather dire financial straits.  How funny for this event to happen tonight…not that it gave me a complete, revelatory, “Praise Jaysus” kind of “new” perspective but it made me think.

I went outside for a cigarette and upon me came a homeless man.  We don’t get many around my neighbourhood.  Not that I live in a “posh” area but it is “gentrified,” you might say? It is very nice and there are no ruffians, no hoodlums.  If you may make any complaint, there are too many “yuppies” even though that is a term from the 1980s.  I don’t know what the hell you’d call them now.  Maybe the same thing?

Anyway, I’ve always talked to homeless people.  If they would talk back.  I mean, I’d usually let them initiate the conversation.  It’s not like I would just walk up to someone living on the streets (or maybe a shelter at night) and start rambling away!

The vast majority of people never do.  They just whisk by and ignore them or even worse…cuss at them, OMG, even accost them (I just about got myself into trouble yelling at some teenage boys for doing that to a homeless man who was obviously mentally ill.)

This bloke was definitely mentally ill. He was also lugging (I suppose), his worldly possessions with him in a guitar case.  It made me kind of smile as I thought that was pretty cool.  Not your average, stereotypical shopping cart, right? He asked me for some money and told him I was unemployed but I stopped giving pocket change to the homeless a few years ago.  I have my reasons.  And thus began our conversation.

He was a drunk–and a cheap one.  I don’t mean that it didn’t take much to get him there but in a way, that is not a lie.  When one is a habitual drunk for years…well…you’re just drunk all the time.  And you are at a degree of alcoholism where you’ll get it in any way you can.  As I found out he had–in a very common way.  He produced a rather large bottle and was trying to open it.  Fumbling…  I couldn’t see what it was at first but then, an arrow just shot through my heart.

It was a bottle of mouthwash.  Listerine! I don’t know if that is sold around the world but it’s pretty popular? And the good old fashioned variety has well, a bit of alcohol in it so it’s the cheapest way for homeless alcoholics to get a “fix.”  There is also cough medicine too but more bang for your buck with the mouthwash.  God, he even spilled a bunch of it all over the road when trying to open it.  I could hear other people in the vicinity making jokes…

Another arrow through my heart.

He told me that he had worked in the mines up north.  He asked me if I was (or sort of told me as he was still talking about it), that you can’t be claustrophobic but he loved the work.  He asked me how old I was and I told him.  He asked if I was married.  I said no.  He laughed happily and said, “I’ll marry you!” I started laughing back and said, “Is that a proposal?” He just sort of smiled.

He mentioned something about a church and would they “let him in.”  I was wondering if he was looking for some sort of refuge.  He said something about a priest and I noticed he was wearing a cross.  I asked him if he was wanting to go to a church? Was he wondering if they would let him to stay for the night? He said, “No! I don’t go to church!” I just nodded and said okay.

At that point, I was done with my cigarette and was ready to go back inside.  I told him to have a good night and be careful.  He said to me, “God bless and I still love you!” I just smiled back and said, “Godspeed.”

So, apart from the pretty much(?) reality that I am not going to become homeless, there’s the issue that…well, even though my brain is falling apart (or it feels like), there is that sector of the mentally ill, homeless population that still have it going on.  In fact, they are the sector that fight to stay homeless in most cases.  They basically enjoy it.  It is their life; what they know.  It is their “choice.”  They don’t want to have a home.

That may sound strange but trust me, where I live, I’ve read about it, dealt with it…  And again, talked to the mentally ill sector of the homeless population.  They are completely happy living their lives as they do.  And they are so sweet.  They are so non-threatening.  Well, okay.  I can’t make generalisations as one who was Schizophrenic actually threw an innocent bystander in front of a subway train and killed her.  Ummm…whoops.  But from my experience, those that I have spoken to have been lovely.

So indeed, of course I don’t want to end up in such a manner but to meet someone who is “…penniless and homeless on the street” that is so happy–Listerine or not–well, maybe that means there’s some hope I can get through the “wreckage” of my own life.  My situation…does it pale by comparison?

I feel pathetic in thinking about it in both ways.  I feel pathetic about my own life and then I feel pathetic that I still have the possibility of better things ahead–even if I just can’t see them? And someone who is homeless can get along better? Maybe? I don’t know.  All I know is that when I’ve talked to the ones I have, they have been so happy and it’s not been about money or begging.  Trying to get my cash.  No, it’s been really cool and genuine conversations.

I’m almost tearing up now.

It may not be your “thing” but if you can and it doesn’t “scare” you, speak to the homeless.  They have a lot to offer–even if it sounds like they’re not making a lot of sense at the time–they are.

EDIT: I streamed a song for the homeless man I met.  He said he mined for gold so I put up “Mining for Gold” by Cowboy Junkies.  It’s one of my favourite tracks from the CD “The Trinity Session,” that was recorded completely live with minimal equipment in a church in Toronto.  No, I mean minimal equipment and live take.

Anyway, this is the song that I streamed and I can only find a really shitty TouYube.  I’m surprised that there isn’t even a live version–considering the whole damn album was recorded live?!

But he said he mined for gold.

Mining for Gold by Cowboy Junkies