That kid has walked past me twice, both times I know he was looking at me. I don’t want to look at him back, what’s the point in provoking him? Should I move? What if he wants to give me something? He’s turned around and is coming back again, I’m looking down at the floor; I can feel his eyes on me. Please just keep walking, please don’t bother me. I feel the kick into my side, I look up at him, his eyes filled with hatred. Hatred for what? He doesn’t know me, I don’t know him. He spits at me and then walks away.
He’s gone, I sit myself back up again, there are people watching me from the bus stop across the road. Concerned? Maybe. They can’t be that concerned though, not like they’re rushing over to help me. Fuck them. They might miss their bus home. I wish missing the bus home was an inconvenience I could experience. Why am I getting angry at them though? It’s not their fault. 20 years ago I would have done the same thing. How have I ended up so bitter? Ha! That’s a stupid question.
The Styrofoam cup with the coffee in has gone cold, I’ve nothing else to keep my hands warm but to pull them up into my jacket. I take a last sip of the coffee, it’s even more bitter when it’s cold. The bus pulls up across the road and the people get on. A man is looking at me through the window on the top deck. The bus pulls away, the people on board on their way back to their homes. I allow myself a smile. I wonder what they think when they see me sitting here on my sleeping bag?
People have this image of people living on the streets as hopeless alcoholics or drug addicts. I don’t drink, I’ve never done drugs. Even if I did, what does it matter? Does it mean I’m less deserving of being able to sleep somewhere warm, somewhere safe. I know why people do drink, I know why they take drugs. Somehow I’ve managed to hold onto some hope that it’ll get better one day. That’s not an easy thing to do. Not being able to hold onto slim hopes doesn’t make you weak. Other people’s hopes are different.
Some people hope that the postman is going to bring them something they ordered yesterday, or they hope that they won’t miss the bus because they left work late. Hope that their dinner didn’t burn because they left in the oven for a little bit longer than they should have done. Is that really hope? Hope to me, hope to other people that live out here is seeing the day through being able to eat, keep warm, maybe even just have a conversation with someone. I don’t blame anyone for losing that hope.
I should move, it’s cold tonight. I pick up my sleeping bag and the plastic bag with all my belongings: a facecloth and a toothbrush. The shopkeeper nods his head at me as I walk past. I force a smile back. He gives me a coffee each evening. I should be grateful, I am grateful, or am I? Why do I have to force a smile to acknowledge one of the few people that help me. Envy? Probably. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not him, it’s just what he represents. Why didn’t he come out when that kid kicked me? Did he even know? Fuck!
I walk by the river, it’s not sheltered, I’d have been warmer where I was but I just want to walk. If that kid turns up with his mates things could get a lot worse. I look down at the floor as I walk. It’s late and there are few people about but I don’t want to make eye contact with anyone, I just want to ghost through the streets without being noticed. I’m not going back there tonight. Where can I go? Just walk all night? It wouldn’t be the first time.
I am going to be doing a charity walk to raise awareness and money for homelessness in Ireland. The walk will take place starting from December 12th and I will be walking from Dublin to Co Galway which is about 200km. You can donate below. Thank you!