2. Shelter

I’ve addressed homelessness in this blog, but largely in passing. And wonder sometimes whether that’s a mistake. Maybe I should hit the topic more play-by-play directly. Because most days when you’re homeless being homeless is all that happens.

Gets to the point where there’s not much else to write about.

Thing is though I don’t want to write about it. I’ve sick to shit of it. It hurts. Plus I’m kind of ashamed of it. I needn’t be. Should I be? Ashamed of what? Shame is a toxic emotion which feeds on itself. So…shamed by shame? Fuck if I know. I’m not a god damn therapist.

I am a human being. And human beings need, have always needed, to provide for ourselves certain things in order to survive. Water, shelter & food specifically. And – this is instructive – in that order. Anyone who has been in a survival situation (or watched one on TV) knows that that is how one’s basic needs line up in order of priority.

1. Water.

2. Shelter.

3. Food.

It feels a bit counter-intuitive that shelter should come before food. After all lack of food – though it may take weeks or sometimes months – will kill a man. But, then, one cold night can kill a human in one cold night. So there you go.

What is shelter? In the wild shelter is adequate protection from the elements. And from both known & unknown predators. On a camping trip in summertime in Vermont a tent provides adequate shelter. But is the tent really necessary? On a dry night…yes and no.

On a dry night a person can sleep in relative comfort on the ground in the woods with no tent. For about one night. A short night! The night will end quickly. Whether it’s mosquitoes (which even in Vermont can transmit strange diseases), or the brightly rising sun, or random passing hikers who look at you oddly…something inevitably will disturb your slumber by reminding you that your shelter scenario is inadequate.

Waking up in the morning after camping with a blanket but no tent on a warm dry night might feel to you like when you get too drunk to drive home so you sack out on a friend’s couch instead. What’s the very, very first thing that pops into your pounding head when you wake up to realize the inadequacy of your shelter arrangement?

Well, if you truly were drunk the night before…you probably want water more than anything. But that’s more of a desperately choked gasp than a literal thought. The first thing you actually think?

I want to go home.


7 Responses to “2. Shelter”

  1. 1 galloway October 10, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    I think Caity really cares for you, E. In my book that makes you a lucky man, homeless or not.

  2. 2 AuntJackie October 11, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t know you very well, or know the above people–but They make good points.

    All I know is that we indeed make our own destiny and that everything has a reason… some reason, or lesson.

    When you are ready to have a good life, you’ll find your way.

    I hope you do.

  3. 3 Mike E October 11, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks to the 3 of you for your thoughtful comments — that is why I wrote this post. Each one deserves to be addressed directly, so I am off to busy myself with my next blog post.

    Thanks again. Awesome.

  4. 4 Mike E October 11, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Well, the post I wrote wound up addressing not one of your good comments directly. Good one though, eh?

  5. 5 durwood October 11, 2007 at 9:46 pm


    whassup baby?

    Im gonna see you one of these days.

    I give that fuck, really do.

    Dig, my own experience tells me this;when I keep banging up against the same brick wall until I can feel the brains leaking out of my ears the kind of change that has to occur has nothing to do with the momentary concerns of morality or desire but is way beneath that, it is a change that is so deep its implications are system wide, something shifts at the center, and all the little details suddenly fall into place. Usually this is something like chewing glass or eating shit sandwiches until the thing finally settles in…And then there is finally, relief…the cessation of suffering

    the thing has to be entirely overhauled from the inside out and there is no room for hesitation or, there is not one second for waivering, on the razors edge between life and death, madness and sanity, suffering and unspeakable joy, there is the need for total focus, the kind that comes from Beyond, somewhere outside of us.

    When it comes you will be in terror,(if you are truly lucky)of losing all of your brilliance and everything that you think makes you who you are, but this is an illusion. who you really are is waiting to emerge, more brilliant (and probably even a better fucking writer, which in your case is saying a great deal)and brighter and more at ease than ever, and probably inside some where sipping a nice drink or smoking a fat joint of lovely green.

    What Im telling you here makes no sense at all and I don’t expect you to give a fuck. Im telling you about magic. Which is very real, more real than anything your senses might be telling you at any given moment. and it just might come to you, special delivery, one day soon, right to where you are….

    are you ready? do you dare? are you clever enough to finally meet yourself face to face and not duck or run for cover?

    See you in the Astral, Mike E, with love and justice and joy….


  6. 6 AuntJackie October 18, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Always insightful and entertaining… Definitely! That’s why I always come read you.

  7. 7 jayherron November 16, 2007 at 8:01 am

    Shelter is an interesting question. I have a place which has a roof that pours in rain inside as much as it does the outside-but yet,when it is not raining in and out theres not much problem.
    The only place that can be heated is this room here in the back-but the cracks in between the door and the jamb keep the heater trying its best…it was 37 this morning-it’ll be warmer later in the day,but the cold days and nights to come yet make me say the same thing as you have-I want to go home. I am tired of living like this. Too afraid to keep a heater going all night because the room is so tiny it would be a hazard. Sleeping with a furniture pad as a sleeping bag-trying to unlock my legs and arms when I wake in the morning,trying to pretend I dont have to pee…but reality sets in real quick.
    When I was a teen-my old dad had a rule about being in by 11 (p/m_ -or no entry until the newspaper came the next morning.
    I can tell you about trying to stay warm in the front seat of the old boys DeSoto-no keys to crank it,just get in out of the wind. It was just as freezing in the car as out…
    When I was trucking-going up I-5 from San Diego towards LA…it always amazed me how many people were hanging around under the overpasses-sometimes there were what seemed cardboard walls and small villages going up under the high way above.
    San Diego aint too bad for being reasonable warm-but it always amazed me that right there in full view it was there-the homeless.
    Whats really so amazing is that just recently the ‘cathlick’ diocese just forked out 250 million bingo reciepts for an attempt to apologize to the ones they sexually assaulted-mentally assaulted. This ammount of money was added to the already 650 million bingo reciepts-thats cash for those who dont know…
    nine hundred million dollars that a ‘church’ had in its banks??
    Because they have that ‘church’ address-they get a shelter-a tax shelter….jeez.
    In between Gallup and Shiprock NM theres a hundred miles of desert and cold winds…notta a squat of anything else. Oh-the two lane highway,and off and on as you go one way or the other there are Navajo travelers just standing with thier gear on the side of that road…in the middle of absolute nowhere. It always amazed me.
    Man do I remember sleeping by the fire. 30 some years ago on the very ground and in the very spot there is for a fire this morning. How stiff and dirty I felt each morning.
    In a few days-ahh,if not by tomorrow-next week my electric will be cut-it took all my cash to head down to the hearing I went to this past week. I gambled my electric bill payment to go there-it was/is worth the chance…when my power is cut the well also goes-no water,so I keep 50 gallons in buckets for such an event. I used to not mind-but now a days…
    So the house will be quieter-and for sure as cold as outside,after all-its a bohemian sort of lay out,open air-in many ways. No music,unless I go sit in the truck…poor. Thats what it is…poor.
    I’m like you Mike E…I want to go home.
    I think after saying all that I’m going to crawl under that furniture pad with the dogs and get warm…

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