It’s The Little Things

Posted: June 16, 2007 in Homelessness, Hopes, Misconceptions, Self Esteem

There are times when I get to feeling a bit nostalgic. I start remembering people and events from "way back when."

I imagine that many people go through the same feelings: thinking about the "good old days."

But lately when I do start thinking back it isn’t ruefully. For me it’s recalling the little things that most people who haven’t yet experienced homelessness take for granted. Things like being able to lay down and take a nap; run to the refrigerator and get a cold drink; sitting back on the sofa and watching television and other such things.  

Although I’m not one for watching a lot of sitcoms or "reality" TV but I do (or at least did) enjoy having the television on and tuned into the various cable news broadcasts, or C-SPAN, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and yes, even the Food Network.

Another thing I miss is the ability to take a shower whenever I feel like it. I like the ability to shower in the morning when I wake up and then again just before I go to sleep. On days like yesterday when the temperature is a bit warmer than usual, I would even take a shower sometime during the middle of the day.

Being homeless means having to be at the mercy of some shelter or other homeless support service agency and the hours which they operate. So access to bathing facilities is limited to that. As a result, a person who is homeless doesn’t have the option of constantly looking like they’re freshly laundered. And, that in itself is a drawback for a homeless person who is desperately trying to get ahead in life.

Access to laundry facilities is also limited.

Here in San Luis Obispo, a homeless person can get their laundry done but only once a week. Since most homeless people have a limited wardrobe and they have to "live on the streets," their clothing tends to get a bit more grungy and tattered than that of non-homeless people. Again, this is a major disadvantage for someone trying to advance.

Unlike most people, the homeless are forced to make due with even less than the poverty stricken.

For the homeless, just the little things mean a lot. And yet, even without the little things, the homeless somehow find a way to face each new day.

Perhaps T.S. Eliot said it best when he penned these words:

"And meanwhile we have gone on living,
Living and partly living,
Picking together the pieces,
Gathering pieces of wood at nightfall,
Building a partial shelter,
For sleeping and eating and drinking and laughter."

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