Rainy Morning Homeless Meditations

Scene 1

It’s 5:12 in the morning. Rain falls. Elmer the husky and I walk through the neighborhood. It’s Tuesday—garbage pickup day. All the refuse/recycling bins stand at attention on the sidewalks.

Across the street, I see a woman with long hair (no hat) carrying a large plastic tote. She moves briskly from each recycling bin and digs out returnable cans and bottles. She clearly has a system in place. I hear rattling in the tote as she advances. She’ll have it filled in two blocks. Then what? I sense a ride is waiting for her not far away. A two-person Tuesday canning team. They’ve got it worked out. The early bird gets the can.

Scene 2

Rain falls. I tug Elmer out of the car for another morning walk, this one at 7:30 in a forested park, frequently populated with unpleasant dog owners. A battered, duct-taped gray, sagging sedan from the 90s pulls up alongside me. No license plates. It’s a homeless domicile for sure. They all have the same look. A tall, younger and bearded man emerges from the sedan. He’s vaping. He’s exuding an unmistakable homeless vibe. He opens a rear door and out bound two short-haired mutts. One is missing a back leg. Both are wearing sweaters. He doesn’t leash them up. They romp to a tree, take a piss, then start roughhousing with each other. The man and I make eye contact. He nods. I say GOOD MORNING. He sort of grunts a greeting. Elmer wants to join the dogs but we move in a different direction.

I consider: this homeless man with two dogs, drove to a park in the rain and had them wearing sweaters. To me, this dichotomy offers hope.

Scene 3

I’m sitting in a coffee shop across the street from my dad’s assisted living center. Rain falls at nine in the morning. I’m writing about the homeless in longhand and I look out the window and observe a homeless man wearing multiple layers of clothing skateboard down the sidewalk carrying various possessions, including what appears to be a toilet plunger or a pogo stick. I can’t quite make it out. He’s wearing a seat cushion on his head; it’s tied up like a bonnet.

Scene 4

A few minutes later in the coffee shop, I look out the window and see a young homeless man across the street striding down the sidewalk. He stops and bends over to tie his shoes. He can’t do it. His hands are in the right spot but he can’t tie his shoes. He keeps trying and failing. He keeps at it for a minute then give up, straightens up, and continues on his way in the rain.

Scene 5

Thirty minutes later, a homeless man wearing a safety vest steps in front of an abandoned storefront. Rain falls. He stares at a large window. He obviously sees his reflection because he acknowledges it. I watch him start a conversation with the refection, which is either himself or a version of himself. Maybe he sees someone else entirely, a ghost or some Dorian Gray thing. This sight comes to me as I sit in my car, stopped at a four-way intersection. No one is behind me so I idle and watch. Is his conversation coherent, practical, delusional, cathartic? A car appears behind me. Time to move on.