Well it has been three weeks since I have left my home of twenty years. It is still a little surreal to me. It doesn’t seem possible that I could have spent most of my working years working with the homeless to becoming a homeless person. No matter how I try to wrap my mind around that, it will not compute. So was the case when I went to the Weingart Center yesterday. “The Weingart Center is a non-profit comprehensive human services organization that was established in 1983 after recognizing that widespread homelessness was a new phenomenon facing the city of Los Angeles.” It is also in the middle of Skid Row.
I took a Lyft to the Weingart Center because the buses were not coming and I wanted to make sure I got there at 7 am when they opened up. When the driver pulled up to the center, I wanted to crawl back in the car and tell him to take me out of this hellish place and fast! He must of thought I was some kind of drug addict or something, I mean who else would take a Lyft to Skid Row? I was sure I had stepped into Dante’s “Inferno.” The mother in me was screaming, “You can’t take Adonai here! Are you psychotic? You are a horrible person and mother to be taking him through this!” As I walked up to the Weingart Center, I thought to myself, “This is not me! I am not like these people. I am not this type of homeless. How did I get here? I do not belong here, my son does not belong here.”
With every ounce of courage I walked into that place. I waited patiently for them to open the doors. “Please open the doors.” I thought to myself. I wasn’t sure how long I could last with the crazy. I looked across the street, there was a man who was walking haphazardly across it. We weren’t sure if he was going to get himself killed as he stopped mid-center his arms flailing against his chest and talking manically to himself. He made it across. “I’m crazy but I am not that kind of crazy.” I remarked in my head. It was as if I had been transported to another planet.
A planet full of tents. Some of them were nicer than others. Some actually had furniture in them. Others looked like small makeshift tents. But you could tell even on Skid Row, even among the homeless population, you could see there was a feel of status among them. Coleman tents and air mattresses would fill one tent while plastic and tape would create another. Rich and poor among Skid Row residents. Meanwhile I was living an apartment/hotel. It had a shared bathroom and kitchen but the room was yours. If there was status among the people with the tents then I fancied myself a Queen. I had a real roof over my head. After I would leave Weingart Center, I would be going back to my temporary shelter.
The woman told me to come back on Monday. So Monday morning I will go up there once again. All in hopes to find a place to stay. I keep telling myself “I am not that kind of homeless.” But if I want to find a home I just might have to admit to myself, I am that kind of homeless.