Living the Pandemic Year in Harvard Square

Life being homeless on the streets of Harvard Square was tough, but I noticed last year a glimmer of hope. 

As cruel winter came upon us, the food supplies were still coming and also water. I remember the first snowfall we got in December was not too bad but the cold could whoop us any day. I remember seeing thick snow as white as the clouds in the sky; it would drop and so would the temperature. 

In the cold, it was so hard. You would awaken in the morning and your hands would be so numb, you could not feel them, but you still needed them to tie on your mask — that was the rule. 

Yes, there was a little more life going out there but it was still very bleak. 

People would walk around you and pull up their masks, as if you were the one who carried the virus. There was still nowhere to go on those days and nights, nowhere to stay and really get dry. 

I remember those very strong winds again howling like a wolf searching for food to feed it pack. It would rip right through if you were not prepared for it. It’s taken many a homeless man and woman out here in Boston, New England. I was lucky to be dressed for it. The only thing that was cold on me was my hands. 

Luckily, we had programs to help us. FirstStep and Friday Cafe and the Outdoor Church too, as well plus the students from the Harvard Homeless Shelter all had mercy on us. I thank each and everyone of you for being there for us. 

Yes, things were looking up, but I could still see a lot of troubled souls as the months were flying, which was good, because it meant winter was going fast. 

I think it was November when we got showers from the City of Cambridge. It felt really good to get hot running water to be clean again after five months of not. It was a blessing. I remember going to the showers. They had frozen through during an extreme snowstorm we had just had. We had to use the handicapped one, but it all worked out thanks to Jimmy Stewart and his crew on hand. (James, Sophie, Kevin, and Alex — I fully appreciate all of your help and kind work. Also a big shout to Capital One Cafe for letting me use the restrooms.) 

Now Harvard wants its carpark back. I mean, it’s a perfect location for the showers, but you can’t argue with them. I will miss them. They are lifesavers, as I’m sure every homeless person you meet would know. We have another month left which is fine by me. I’m very grateful for that. 

Yes, winter was long and bleak, but yes, we got through another brutal New England winter. Well, all this is under our belt, but it was great not having a lot of snow, but it was very cold indeed. 

More people began coming out when they lifted some of the restrictions. More stores started opening a little later. This city is starting to come back to life again due to the vaccine. 

I just want to say “Thank you very much” to Boston for doing a great job during such hard times. This state has also done its bit, I must say. Yes, things are getting better. Trump has gone and Boston gets my last words on this. 

People never gave up, ever.


This is my story. I hope you like it. Thank you. 

Earlier reflections from Alistair on the pandemic experience were published in December 2020.



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