Wednesday, May 13, 2015

1 Week on the Streets - April 26th

I slept through the whole night.  I would force myself to wake up during the night to make sure I still had all my things and check my surroundings but I could only keep my eyes open for a couple of seconds.  The first couple of days I was scared so I couldn't really sleep; now I was scared because I was getting sleep.  For breakfast I decided to make the trek out to Martin de Porres House of Hospitality.  It was tough; I was tired, weak, and hot.  But it was worth it, the food and community was great.

After I had breakfast I decided to go to Glide for their Sunday service.  I was excited to be there.  Their service is apparently known all across the country.  The service started with the choir singing Kumbaya.  Behind the choir, pictures were being projected of homeless folks, historical leaders, and inspirational quotes.  I got very emotional singing along.  The choir singing was incredibly uplifting.

For our evening reflection we all decided to meet at the Embarcadero right next to the Ferry Building.  River of Life Christian Fellowship serves soup there every first and fourth Sunday of the month so that was going to be our dinner.  The line is formed literally along The Embarcadero street; it was packed with people!  I got in line to get my soup and immediately felt embarrassed.  People began staring, wondering what was going on.  I overheard a handful of tourists explain to each other that a group was getting ready to serve food.  I saw children ask their parents why so many people were in line.  I even saw a couple of people take pictures of us waiting in line.  Two guys in particular walked by us staring at us the whole time; I saw them turn around and walk back to where the line for food started.  They took out their phones and starting taking pictures of us.  I was fuming with anger.  I thought of our guests at The Gubbio Project and how we try our best not to let people come in and walk around and take pictures of them like they are on display.  I caught myself reassuring myself.  In my head I was saying "These people don't know you, they don't know you're not actually homeless.  They don't know you have a Bachelors degree.  They don't know anything about you".  My self-esteem was plummeting.  I thought of the quote from The Help: "You is Kind. You is smart. You is important."  I looked up and down the line at my brothers and sisters and thought of what they were thinking; how they were feeling.

Then I started thinking - "You know what, none of us in this line are perfect.  We all deal with things in our life; things that might include mental illness and addiction.  I might not deal with those things and I might not be homeless but I know I have my own struggles in my life.  Why am I so embarrassed.  All these people looking at us, taking pictures of us, have struggles in their own lives too; struggles that might include mental illness and addiction.  The only difference between us in this line and all these people walking by is that we are all about to get a nice free cup of chicken noodle soup with some good looking french bread.   They are the ones who should feel left out."


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