I was safe, I knew that, which made it easier to relax as I entered a different world from my own. I became aware of a community… they are family… friends… humans – and I am grateful to them for trusting me with their story. I carried my camera and an open mind.
We met at A-Hope, where they were serving the New Years Day breakfast, provided by 12 Bones. I took no photos, none allowed there for privacy issues, and I respect that… not sure how I would feel with a camera in my face, especially just because I was homeless and eating a meal. We gathered there and headed out for our New Year’s Day tour.
Our first stop was a convenience store, for supplies… beer, mostly… the questions went something like this: who has ID? who is allowed in? who has money? My first exposure to how it is on the street. I have never, well maybe once, asked these questions, but never on a daily or hourly basis. We walked on, found an empty picnic bench, sat there talking, joking, laughing, “educating Maureen” they called it… and felt like we were constantly keeping a watchful eye out for the Po Po (APD): ”But hey,” someone said, “we’re safe; Maureen’s got an address.”We moved on. Stops along the way included searching through abandoned donations left in a pile at ABCCM, introducing Maureen to places where they could sit, socialize, drink, or sleep. I looked, they pointed to a spot on the ground, underneath a semi, broken glass everywhere, no chairs, no cardboard. We continued on, met more people, took photos of the “gang” – myself included – stopped at another store, with more of the same questions. I was welcomed into the group and listened to stories of life on the street, along with just plain stories that I might share with my friends – their humor, their friendship, their humanness. I met people that day who are a part of my life forever.