Homelessness bothered her. More than she cared to admit out loud to anyone.
When she was in high school, she was asked by the school newspaper to make a prediction for the new year and she wished for a solution to the problem of homelessness: bubbles that people could live in. The kids in charge of the article asked her a few times if that was her final answer. They all thought she was weird. But she stuck to it. It had some kind of funny resonance to her.
When she was in college, she wrote a big paper about how homelessness was a violation of the social contract and deprived individuals of their right to privacy in the most basic ways. She knew enough by then to realize that homelessness was a complex problem and couldn’t exactly be solved with bubbles. Though she still liked the idea of giving people a way of having a private space.
When she moved to an urban city, she had difficulty turning away from the homeless and wanted to give them everything she had in her pockets. She didn’t care what the reasons were – why they were asking, what they were doing with the money. She just knew that their condition wasn’t right. It pained her in the most extreme way and every once in a while, she would cry on the train home about it while everyone else looked away from her.
Then when she was in her late 30s, she finally made the strangest of connections. Completely out of proportion, actually, to the real plight of the homeless – and quite possibly during a moment when she had lost her mind. She realized that she had been looking for her own home for the longest time. That “home” represented some kind of sanctuary and while she had four walls and a bed as a child, she had never been sheltered from life’s troubles in any way. In fact: the perils of the world sometimes came into her home and robbed her there while she slept. She had completely subjugated her own experience so deeply that she could only experience her feelings about it through some larger social issue that seemed disconnected from herself. When she finally admitted that she wanted to go home but there was no home for her anywhere, she just cried and cried and cried.
It probably wasn’t even right that she connected homelessness to her own lost feeling. But she also knew that sometimes her memories got tangled with strange ideas and unraveling the skein of it could take a long time. She had to say the knotted things out loud for them to straighten out, and even then, they sometimes never made sense when she saw them for what they were, the frightened imaginings of a little girl in danger and nowhere to go. To survive, she had crafted her own bubble inside of her head — and she was still mostly hiding out there even now, when most of the danger had really passed.
The whole crazy thing made her laugh too …. the psychobabble of it all. Fancy phrases about subjugation and inner child, blah blah blah. At some point, she knew she was going to have to start living in the real world without all the psychoanalysis. She was just going to have to make a door on that bubble in her head and get out and walk around. Get some fresh air. And maybe volunteer at a homeless shelter.