I had a lot of responses to my last column. Thank you all for your concern. I’ve temporarily landed on my feet but it wasn’t as simple as one might think.
First, one of my options fell through, as my past once again came back to haunt me. How something that happened when you were 21 can come back to bite you in the ass at 57 is beyond me, but it did. The prospect of having nowhere to go the next morning loomed large. I went about my day as I usually do, not really making excuses and not really talking about it at all.
But as the day wore down, that old feeling began to sit in—a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a long time, that lonely desperate feeling in the pit of your stomach, that silent panic that your were about to be alone out there on the street.
Still, as the night came, I drank enough alcohol so maybe I wouldn’t feel it as much. Fat chance. I made it to the Night Center, which is an overflow shelter. Well, I tried to, anyway—I couldn’t bring myself to go in.
I ended up at City Hall Plaza in Boston at one in the morning. It was unseasonably chilly that night and I could feel the cold inching its way into my chest. I already had a cold and this was only going to aggravate my already annoyed COPD. So I began to get up and walk. As I did, I saw some disturbing things: people sleeping in doorways—not just a few but many—and a lot of young couples just trying to keep warm. At every MBTA station I passed, either a worker or a cop was standing guard to keep homeless people out.
I wasn’t paying attention to the chill anymore. I was just too damn angry—not so much for myself but others, especially the young ones. I’d been young and homeless, too. I knew what their struggles must be like. When I was out here, we had somewhere to hide most of the time. Now, most of those options for these kids are gone. And they’re out in in the streets exposed to the elements and God knows what else or who else. I had no way out for them tonight, but I will find one.
As for me, I made it through the night, spirit intact. I ended up in the hospital for a few days and then help came. Not going to say what, but I’m OK. Someday we’ll all be.