My Views on Homelessness and Pride: by Willow Frost

Posted: June 23, 2014 in Uncategorized
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My Views on Homelessness and Pride: by Willow Frost When I was a teenager, I thought I was a fairly jaded person. I already disliked almost everyone, and I had trust issues due to being ferried between foster homes and juvenile detention centers. When I turned 17, I decided that the juvenile system had nothing left to offer me. I asked my probation officer if they would grant me emancipation, and thankfully, they agreed. When I first hit the streets of Portland, I realized that nothing could have prepared me for what had happened. I had my laptop, a few clothes, and a hatred for socializing. I made my way to Outside In, and they kind of helped me. For a while, anyway. As soon as it was made clear I had very specific goals in mind, and that those goals didn’t mesh with their view of what a ‘street kid’ should be, they began giving me the proverbial ‘cold shoulder’. So, noticing that I was being shunned, I travelled. I went to a lot of places, but the only ones pertinent to this story are New York City, and Chicago. I couldn’t find peace in any of those cities, and they turned me from being a jaded youth, into a near-sociopathic young adult. My levels of apathy and sheer ability to not care about people were honed to a razor’s edge. I started learning how to manipulate the system from the best those cities had to offer; the homeless. Now, I considered myself to be fairly persuasive and manipilative, but when faced with the street buskers of New York and Chicago, I was an infant in an ocean filled with Great Whites. When I returned to Portland, I was astonished at how easy it was to persuade friends to let me crash at their places. I was 23 years old at this point, and after navigating the waters of two of the biggest cities in the US, I felt like Portland was going to be my stomping grounds. Unfortunately, this was not the case. At least, not completely. Now, I mention all of this back story because for those of you reading this that aren’t homeless, you need to realize that while horrible, and crappy, and downright depressing being homeless can be, there’s a certain arrogance that each and every homeless person has that comes from surviving in a city where we’re actively criminalized. Being clever enough to wrangle enough money to live off of out of the pockets of passers-by is no mean feat. Finding a spot where you’re not going get your gear stolen or be woken up constantly and asked to move by police and or ther ‘civil servants’ is actually pretty hard. Organizing your gear and finding a place to stash it so you can take a shower, or look for work, or get other services, is near impossible if you’re by yourself. Because of all these things, we create small communities of those we can trust enough to watch our backs. People we can trust when the system has failed us so horribly. We’ll create circles of friends we like to call ‘street family’, so we can cut down on the depression that comes naturally with being on the street. And, generally, we close ourselves off from what we call ‘housies’ because there’s no way they can understand what we’re going through unless they’ve gone through the same thing. We’re bombarded by cold looks, glances of pity, and acts of hostility from the city, passers-by, and people who are lucky enough to be able to make a living wage. Despite all of our shortcomings, our lack of resources, and our unfortunate circumstances, we’re generally intelligent enough to live when others would fail, and this makes us proud of ourselves, even if it’s subconsciously. This is enough to make to make us a little bit arrogant. Or sometimes a lot arrogant. Just remember this the next time you see a homeless person smile at you and wave whileholding a sign: the greatest majority of America is living paycheck-to-paycheck, and if something doesn’t change in our country soon, it could be your child or friend on that corner in the near future. Another thing to keep in mind is that all of us, from the most disgusting looking hobo to the highest of the 1%, have a Right to Dream, and a Right to Survive. –Willow Frost

 

 

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