Cry Purple

One woman's journey through homelessness, crack addiction, and prison, to blindness, motherhood, and happiness

Life on the Streets

What a challenge for me, after almost two decades of homelessness – not the type of homelessness where one is in an institution or a shelter with a bed with warmth to protect you from the cold, food to still the hunger pangs, and safety from the darkness and all that lurks in it.  Electricity was not readily at hand, at least not for me.  So for many years there was emptiness – with society growing and me standing still.

A song I could relate to was difficult to find.  Even after I went blind, I found it hard to listen to music, remembering past experiences during my sighted life – mostly harsh, cold painful memories – but they were sighted memories nonetheless.  Yet I am determined to make this work, to prove to myself and the world that there can always be a brighter tomorrow – no matter how bad your life is, no matter how poor your choices, and no matter how long this experience has endured in your life.

Humming tunes while cleaning my house, picking up after an 18-month-old as a single, blind mother with no one sighted in my life, I think I found a song that says a lot about my life – at least a past part of it.  The song is “I’m With You” (Those Damn, Cold Nights”), by Avril Lavigne.

I remember the bitter cold winter wind.  I was curled up with no shoes or coat, bare legged in a skirt, too tired to get up from the spot I had found beside a cold brick building alone.  There was no one bugging me, no one wanting anything from me that I was not willing to give.  Just rest, sleep, a friendly word, a rescuer would be nice.  “Could someone find me?”

The concrete so damp, the cold causing my frail body of 88 pounds to ache.  Yet with my head against a vent, where part of my body found warmth, there was a brisk aroma of ground coffee beans to bring me comfort of sorts. But it was occasionally overpowered by the stale, musty smell of urine, reminding me of my reality.

In this song, I hear an insistent cry –  almost a demand:  “I don’t know who you are, but I’m, I’m with you.”  I have felt this, just needing to belong, not caring to who or what.  “Isn’t anyone trying to find me?  Won’t somebody please take me home?”  As I hear this, I am almost reliving the desperation, wanting a kind person someone not wanting me as an object, a thing, but just allowing me to belong, to keep me safe, warm, to see me as a person.  As I think of this, I must remember that to me, the men, too, were faceless and nameless, just there for me as I was for them.

Hearing this song, I will not forget how far I have come, once even being considered “too far gone.”  Today I sit with much gratitude and humility and feel it is a privilege to have another chance at life.

One Response to “Life on the Streets”

  1. Christine, I’m so glad you found your way back. I think of you when times get rough for me. Everybody has their own version of living hell, but you survived challenges that I can’t begin to imagine, and now you’re alive, not unscathed, but helping others who need a leg up out of our own nightmares. I have never met you, but I love you. Laura

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