The homeless are leaving Minneapolis.
And I am both relieved and sorry to see them go.
They’re on the street, on the bus, belongings stuffed into duffel bags, garbage bags, lashed to dollies and carts with bungee cords and hope.
I wonder about the homeless. I want to ask them, “What happened? Did you lose your home in a fire? To the economy? To addiction? Did you burn your bridges? For cryin’ out loud, what happened to your bridges?”
Could the same thing happen to my bridges?
And that’s what the homeless do: they make you think, about frailties, about sleep, about safety. They’re the ones whose pain is visible, but many of us walk the line between being able to contribute to a food shelf and requiring the assistance of one. Add that knowledge to the dwindling heat/light/color of the rapidly approaching winter and the realization that you need to get away, away from the eye-ball freezing temperatures inexorably creeping in, and we’ve got a Cecil B. DeMille-style exodus.
To paraphrase the bartenders, you may not have a home to go to, but you’re not going to want to stay here.
In some ways, I’ll miss the color an outdoor population provides.
I’ll miss the toothless, spacey grin of the man on the corner, a man who does not seem upset by his lot in life.
I’ll miss the man with the long black hair, the man who took his shirt off and laid in the grass, the sun bouncing off a golden, hairless chest who exclaimed with a wink, “Ever been with a bum?”
And hopefully I’ll miss the man who insists on playing the recorder, empty hat at his feet, the recorder, known in my childhood as a “flutophone”, being played by a man who believes that the trill covers a multitude of sins, including an utter lack of musical talent. His rendition of “Three Blind Mice”, able to stun you tone deaf from a block away, is his go-to piece. That one, plus, so help me, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Jingle Bells”, covered with flowery notes not always found in the key of the song, slide into one ear, eat a number of brain cells, and slide out the other, leaving a ring around the inside of the skull akin to the one left around a bathtub after washing something particularly filthy.
I would like to miss him, but how can I miss him if he won’t go away?
First the geese. Now the homeless.
Soon Minnesota will be full of nothing but Minnesotans.
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