Tuesday, February 15, 2011

they're waiting still (to be released)

this is my tent mine it is the tiniest in town i don't stay in it every night now i am trying to take care of myself i am working in the world now i am trying to keep track of myself i am down to one sleeping bag in camp i am nailed to the floor my sky is a plastic sky the weather is balmy &my home is taking a slow breath this is my home i am not always there &there was never a home i was in always except that first home will there be another

there are fewer people milling around now fewer coughers it is the 1st of the month &those who could did those who couldn't well they're waiting still (to be released) waiting with me &ovid &io &jove &juno &isis

it is beginning to rain on my home my tarp is crinkling the television is chattering away i have a cotton shirt on &a jacket i am biking biking the breeze feels like spring but then afterwards i was cool camp is the kind of place i could stay tonight people are listening talking to one another putting puzzles together dawn &randy &rickey are pulling chairs close the tarps &tents are coming down 3 smurfs are gone now poof the tent over my bike is gone poof poof soon i too will go for good where to i have a security to do this week now i am claiming my outside work now i can substitute 2 litter busters for 2 securities now i can pick up cigarette butts in the neighborhood while wearing a bright yellow vest a yellow letter H

the rain is raining harder now it is coming down on the wind which is gusting the rain is pelting like almonds now i suspect the smell of dogs is somewhere rising the smell of sulpher from the roads the oil mixing slipping into grooves it is quiet for a long while it is quiet there is no other sound than plastic &the tv low &the voices lower &the footsteps on patrol like prison guards it is quiet quiet quiet at the perimeter a car passes like a bandwidth
then again from nowhere it comes a body of wind my ceiling collapses &fills it is 4:47am someone knocked the lid off the garbage can someone is putting it sloppily on someone is sliding the can outside my tent someone someone is coughing exhaling six convulsing broken lungs are coughing it is not raining there is no wind now i am not alone lake city is humming 5 blocks downhill someone is taking a pill someone someone is talking to a sick person this take this to the doctor tell him this is what you need someone is protecting us thank you the wind is someone too gently pressing on my tent 2 pills are sliding in a plastic bottle take them take them take them

Harry Potter
I've been driving an old borrowed car, a Honda Civic with peeling paint, but when residents from TC3 get in they all say the same thing--What comfort! Transportation by car is a rare treat. O the things we take for granted! I was invited, by a new friend, to go downtown to see a movie. Yes, I'd love to. I drove the three of us to town, dropped them off near the Compass Center to check their mail and cash their checks and parked uptown. I walked back in to meet them at the theatre. We ate popcorn, drank sodas, saw Harry Potter on the big screen--the normal life! It was a lovely outing. To think, it took someone asking me. How honored, to be called a friend, to be asked. Rowling, you know, was on social security and raising her daughter alone before the success of Harry Potter in 1997. She is now helping the homeless in Great Bristain. Four years ago, she allowed BISS to publish the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix before it hit the shops. When you get where you are going, remember where you came from.

The Order of the Phoenix
Why is it I've been swarmed, questioned and called out these past three months? Is it because of my relationship to the homeless? I have to wonder. It is ever so coincidental. I began to sense it, a kind of culture of difference, shortly after beginning my residency. "Are you safe?" they asked. "More than safe," I said, "I feel cared for." They cocked their heads. Hmmm. They don't believe me. After my last outing, I left my friends in a little urban park and walked up the hill to retrieve the car. One of the men is disabled and cannot navigate the hills. I told him--Wait here, I'll be back with the car. I drove around and saw them surrounded by bicycle police. O no! My friends approached with a citation in hand. Offense: Urinating in public. Blast! Shouldn't have had that second big gulp! He said, "First time for everything." I said, "You anointed one of my favorite places in Seattle." We laughed. Another outing, different people, also homeless, I was waiting in the alleyway while my friend picked up a dress from a daughter for a special affair. I was parked with my flashers on, three cop cars swung around, all at once, and swarmed us. Something was planted at the foot of the man standing behind my car. The female officer comes to my window. "Are you aware this man is a known narcotics dealer?" "No, I am not aware." No one asks who I am. No one asks for identification. After a brief interrogation, my homeless friends are released. They say that if I were not with them, they would have gone to jail. Or so they think. For what? The woman who made the call was sitting across the alley in an open car staring at us. Her hair was thinning. She had photosensitive lenses on. Shouldn't they post a warning: This Alley Is Hot. Linger Longer than Two Minutes and You Will Be Questioned. Anyway, what were we doing in that alley? A family member of the homeless woman lives there. Coincidence? Hmmm. A third incident. I invited a homeless friend to dinner. He joined me and my two friends at the house I am watching (friends on vacation). Because he smokes, he goes out frequently to the porch. Neighbors call the home owners to warn them someone suspicious is on their porch. Granted, this neighborhood has been vandalized in the past. My own car has been broken into right here, in front of this house, while I was sleeping inside. The neighbors are on high alert for difference, for people who look different, act different. What do villains look like? They smoke.

Friday, February 11, 2011

There Were Bells on the Hill, but I Never Heard Them Ringing..

A Wedding! A Wedding!
The other day, as I was walking through camp, Janice was soliciting for witnesses for her wedding. We're getting married on Tuesday. I want to go! "You can come to our wedding, Mimi." The wedding was less than a week away. I put out a call for a photographer and dropped into a few florists, but the vendors were fresh out of offers and the photographers were busy. I charged my camera battery and prepared to be the witness and chauffeur and photographer. One stop shopping. Janice sat next to me at the camp meeting. Her sweetheart was across the way. "He's looking for me," she said. "He doesn't see me yet, but he's looking." The person standing in the way moved aside and he caught sight of her. He pointed and smiled, a big broad smile. She smiled back. They've been together going on three years and seem perfectly happy. "He's my best friend and my soul mate. We do everything together. My kids say, 'Mom's out there in the cold. He's right out there too!'"

One, Two, Buckle Your Shoe
On Tuesday morning, I showered, dressed and drove to camp. Janice and Arthur were on their second trip to the store. I met them there and we drove to Southcenter Mall in Tukwila to pick up the rings, the hat, the suit and the shoes, all at different stores, all pre-selected. Then to Kent to book the honeymoon suite. Then to Seattle to bathe and dress. A call to Janice's daughter yielded some troubling news then. Our staging area was falling through. Yikes! Where could we go? We only had an hour and a half to get ready and the dress and dressing room were being yanked away. I called a friend to ask if we could use his house. He said yes--thank God for friends--so we picked up the dress and headed for Clinton's house.
As we were preparing, it became apparent that weren't going to have time to drive across town to pick up the other two witnesses from Tent City. Janice was perming her hair. Arthur was shaving. It was already 2:30 and the wedding was in Des Moines at 4pm. Traffic snarls in Seattle at rush hour. I called my friend Lyn in Magnolia who was, somehow mysteriously and auspiciously, still in town. She was supposed to be in Arkansas, visiting a special somebody, but her flight was canceled due to major snowstorms all across the nation.
I asked if she might join me for a wedding. She said yes. I hoped it might relieve her of the stress of wanting to be elsewhere when elsewhere was all iced over. And I hoped to bestow some good luck love on her. Lyn said she'd be a witness if I helped her get to the airport at 4 the next morning. Agreed. On top of missing her flight, her car was in the shop. I said sure. I raced over to get her. When we returned, Janice and Arthur were nearly ready. Lyn sat played a quick Chopin on the piano. Then, at 3:01pm, we got in the car and headed south on I-5. There was heavy traffic through the downtown area due to an accident near Convention Center. Once we got through that, we were flying. We made it to the court house at the stroke of 4. Arthur's sister was waiting. Janice's daughters and grand-daughters were on their way. We went in to greet Judge Victoria--smiling, pleasant, professional. She offered the documents and presented her own brand of vows made of a conglomeration of vows she liked and assembled over the years. They were a mix of simple, sincere, heartfelt and serious. When Janice and Arthur repeated them, you could see the waves of emotions come over them--simple, sincere, heartfelt and serious.
It was a sweet little wedding punctuated by laughter and tears. I signed the certificate. Doris signed the certificate. Janice and Arthur signed it. There was a kiss and a hug. And that was it. They were married. The cell phone rang. J's daughters were outside. "You missed it! I'm already married!!" Big smiles. We met them outside and drove to the honeymoon suite to celebrate with a beer and a bag pork rinds. There were no presents. There was no cake. There was no reception line. There was a tv. There were cigarettes. There were two granddaughters and a grandson. There was laughter. It was purple.
            The newly married couple, beaming outside the court house, in the setting sun.