Sunday, November 7, 2010

Homeless personal experience

I am posting my event blog way early to honor this knowledge of Cheryl dying (she is a part of this blog post). She would make me know this on daylight savings 'fall back' day. I can hear her in my mind saying "Don't Fall back, Susie. Be happy and just Spring Forward'! Yes that is something she would say.

November 14th through November 20th 
During this week of Awareness..
Give to your local missions or shelters!
Help them expand the love of God
In a way that it is needed
Food and Shelter
And unconditional kindness

Get a playlist!

In 1999, I became homeless.  My experience was life changing.  I met so many interesting people who were just as down and out.  Some were wanderers and hopped from mission to mission.  Others, were like me, no job and had a personal life fall out.  I was lucky and thankful to the Bakersfield Rescue Mission and the Crossroads Mission of Yuma, Arizona.  Feeding, clothing and shelter.  I was able to shower and do laundry.  I also had resources available for free bus passes and employment assistance.
I was never hungry.
In fact, we ate so much that I imagined the neon sign that read "Jesus Saves" should of included "Jesus Feeds".
They didn't treat us like pigeons to get us to hear the word. They just were there and friendly.  They didn't make us feel like lost sheep or guilty that we lost faith.
I was never afraid.
 I was fortunate to be in a smaller metro area with a shelter. In Bakersfield, I made a friend-Cheryl. She had a smile and a walk that when she passed by the flowers would blossom. She smiled at me as I was behind her going to the dining hall and said "If any of those guys back there are looking at my ass, you tell them they owe me a dollar". We began to be friends after that.  
And she was happy in a place you would think happy would have a hard time to find.

After being rejected applying for 40 plus jobs and being told that the Alaska fish industry recruiter was only looking for migrant farm workers...
I had gone to the Kern County Fair to join the carnival. I knew I could get work there and follow it.  Cheryl and about 10 other homeless followed my lead. We followed the whole season with the carnival company.  I had my own kiddy ride. It was the safari train you see pictured.  I had to put the tracks together.  You needed about 4 strong men to lift the cars.  I was lucky to have my own ride.  I put on a monkey half mask one time and would go "Who got me banana? I want banana"!  Then I would produce one and say "Me got banana! You no take me banana"!  Some of the younger riders would cry.  I decided to take it off. LOL The kiddy ride director (Benny) told us that being a Carnie is "the hardest work you will ever do being homeless". It was a Carnie camp out. Not everyone had housing. We would take our sleeping bags into some of the rides and sleep there. We ended in Northern California and dismantled our rides in the pouring rain.  It was like swimming.  I call that time 'my basic training' of life.

I was fortunate to have a circle of friendly people who were in the same situation.  We all put together our money and at the end of the season rented a U-haul and hauled ourselves like illegals down to the summer spot where Carnies go.  There were two places Indio, CA or Yuma, AZ  I got a job in Yuma and decided not to follow the next season.

Always a wise good soul was by my side protecting me like a saint or an angel.  Cheryl set herself up at a motel in Yuma. I went to the Mission.
Cheryl was a prostitute, I failed to tell you. Head turning tall blond with long legs and the biggest friendliest smile you ever saw.  
she told a story how she was the Petroleum Pageant Queen in her local town in another time...She'd say she would see her children when they graduate. She always talked about guardian angels I found her a pin she wore like religion.  Cheryl was surely an angel with dirty wings. She would say that she loved having sex, but men had to pay AND satisfy HER.  It  was not selling her body to her. It was getting paid to do something she normally did and loved-getting it on.  She helped me find a conventional  job and then went her way. I was able to leave the Crossroads Mission.  I heard she was getting married, then I heard she stole 2K of weed from her fiancee who was looking for her only to forgive her. She had come to see me earlier and we hugged and cried as she said goodbye on her way to Phoenix.  I didn't tell him that.

There was another angel named Dennis who looked like and thought he was Jesus and would cry because he would get horny.  He took over the charge of guardian.  Dennis helped me find an apartment next to some friends and stayed with me until he felt the sex building up then went back to the homeless shelter to be Jesus because he had a hard time being Plato -nic. Grinning with this memory... 

In my apartment, I would burn three Catholic candles.  A friend of a neighbor asked me what I did that for and I said "1 billion Catholics can't be wrong".  I just didn't know exactly why. I would chuckle when I'd buy them and think 1 billion Catholics can't be wrong.  They burned a long time and gave a hint of heat in my studio apartment that was all I really needed in the Yuma winter time.  Then something DID happen. The person who asked me about the candles became my friend.  He and his wife  lived down the road.  That friendship turned  into a ride North bound to another city.  Before we left, I went to the local Catholic church and left the heavier portion of my collection of heart rocks that I had found on my way to Yuma next to the St. Francis statue. 
Oh I failed to add that all through this homeless journey I would find heart rocks. There was love everywhere!  I kept only a select portable amount.

[picture source]
In the bigger cities, there are not always spots at the missions to accommodate all the homeless.  I was lucky. I had my angels.
My angels were real people with real lives that were not perfect, but were loving.  My description of them is topical (Prostitute and Schizo), but their reality and hearts were real. 

The true sad problem are "The Abandoned" or "The Loveless".  These are those that can't get into the shelters because of some rule or got kicked out because of one.  These are Nam Vets that live outdoors some remote area holed up because they came back not quite right. These are also the mentally ill that roam the streets because the system hasn't caught up with them, or they scored just high enough to qualify for release, get a 'nut check' (social security), but come out to ride the bus and wander the streets talking to themselves or that big rabbit that sits next to them.  One could look deeper and there are drug and alcohol addicts and broken souls from tragedy that they dare not share. Addiction and despair and insanity all live there. 

You can get robbed, raped or killed as prey in the dark shadows.
I teetered on the edge of danger many times, but a force of goodness just kept me from falling.  There are good people in the dregs where you would think good would have a hard time to find.

All through my personal homeless experience I discovered:
I was never hungry. I was never afraid.  There is love everywhere!

  • It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.
  • For it is in giving that we receive.
  • Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. 
  • I have been all things unholy.If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.

  • Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
  • A real friend is someone who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
All above quotes are from:
Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone 
aka St Francis Of Assisi
 1182 – 1226

      Post script:  I found a person with Cheryl's last name on FaceBook that lived in her home town (where she once was the  Petroleum Pageant Queen) and was told by the son who never knew her that she had died two years ago.  The lifetime of drugs finally caught up with her was the epitaph emailed to me.  I am sad that she could not save herself and that she is most likely buried in Potter's Field. 
      I don't know what pain is deeper that of motherless children or childrenless mothers. 
      RIP Cheryl  2008

      Thank you for viewing my blog!
      Bluezy (Susan)


      Tim Chaney said...

      That was one AWESOME post~! I have much to be thankful for, stories like these are my heart shaped rocks. Thank you.

      Bluezy said...

      Thanks Tim. Too bad that did not happen to me when I was young. I strongly recommend a bonding with the street early in life for the young. Back in the day there were those who went on back pack trips.
      I had an opportunity to join a railroad car rider when in Yuma, but that scared me. All I could see in my head was Ernest Borgnine trying to beat my ass!
      Thanks for commenting. It is nice to know I could share with you.

      afterthegoldrush said...

      What a wonderful story. I am glad that it had a happy ending for you. That is a great song, by the way.

      Bluezy said...

      It is a dumpster find. I never heard it until I chose it. I love it too. It fit perfectly with the story. I just searched loveless. I got really lucky. I was going to use Bad Religion This is Just a Punk Rock Song.