Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Good Morning America, how are you?

10pm July 4th, 2011: The grass underneath me is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Growing up I was never into sports, so I never found myself on a professionally manicured lawn until this moment, and quite frankly it was worth the wait. Maybe due to my recent willingness to connect with the ground? It is after all a natural progression in homelessness. Sooner or later, no matter how hard you fight the urge, you are going to lay down on some grass somewhere and fall asleep.
However this isn't about the grass. It's partially about America. This night I experienced something completely new to me.... a big ol' slice of American Pie.
There's still smoke in the air from the fireworks show that just took place above me as I lay in this carpet like plant life. The thing with this fireworks show was that for me it was my first small town 4th of July! Growing up it was always the big show from the East River in NYC, and last few years it's been the big show at the Esplanade along the Charles River here in Boston. This year however, I found myself in Waltham, MA, gathered in a high school football field, along with most of the town, and sharing the experience of bad live 70's music, cotton candy, and an overall "cuteness" that until tonight only existed in movies as far as I was concerned.
There was a point I felt like I was in the cast of Grease, the entire scene was absolutely ADORABLE!
However this isn't really about the fireworks. I think more than anything, what was really bringing me overwhelming joy, was the fact that it was 10pm, and I was walking about freely in the night air! Sounds simple enough, but the fact is until that sun set completely at 9;21, it was the first time in 2 months that I have been able to be outside of the designated smoking area of the shelter at night!! The joy that this gave me was beyond words.
However this isn't really about moving free in the night air. The joy I'm feeling on this night came a feeling of success. You see, earlier this day was my "Boston Harbor Island 4th of July Homeless BBQ Bash", and somehow, I actually managed to pull this thing off!!
Just when I thought this had no hope of happening properly, I was once again amazed by the kindness of others. People who donated to help me get this going, people at the Island Alliance that took a chance on a group of homeless people on their busiest family day of the year. Fellow homeless friends that pitched in anything they could via food stamps, and took the initiative when we got there to assemble the new grill, and position tables in what was nothing less than a perfect spot for the day, and then spent hours taking turns doing the cooking so I didn't have to!! A week before I had an anxiety attack because I was taking on too much, and my doctors, while supporting the idea, weren't crazy about me taking on the pressure. Yet here I am, that part of the day over, and now laying in this grass basking in the glow of a day executed perfectly!!

However this isn't really about success, this is about HUMANITY. Everything about this day was about taking these guys out of the day to day environment that we endure. Endless hours at the library killing time. Endless Dr appointments. Endless AA or NA Meetings. Endless nights of staring at the same four hot sweaty walls, looking at dozens of lost faces every night.
This was the day where we got to remind ourselves that just like everyone else, we are entitled to simply go out and have fun like everyone else, and by stimulating this mindset one achieves a greater sense of self empowerment, a greater self of independence, along with a greater feeling of comradery among the group. And my friends, these are the tools that lead to change, not only in one persons life, but the kind of change that can't help but spread itself to others.

Today however I also was reminded of this, and not just the one trying to pass the message. Today we were also joined by my ex!
Now first let me say, you've heard me use the term "my ex" before, yet I'm not a fan of it. I use it because it's easier to get my point across in a story where the focus lies somewhere else, but today I do in fact want to take a moment and let you all know, that the term "my ex", doesn't do her justice. She is the one person in my life who has stood by me, and still continues to do so through all of this. She is still my closest and dearest friend, and the one person that I couldn't ever picture not having in my life at all.
And she's pretty god damn sexy too! ;)
The point is, whether she realizes it or not, her willingness to come join us, without batting an eye about it, says a lot about her character, and whether she realizes it or not, that made me feel fantastic and gave me the little push I needed to remind MYSELF of some of the same things that I'm trying to make others feel.
And it wasn't just me, everyone that came yesterday pointed out that at no time did she ever make anyone feel at all "lower on the social ladder". Also keep in mind that some of these guys are a little bitter and generally think that everyone is looking down on them even when they're not, but she made them all feel just like any other group, and knowing her she does this without thinking about it. It's one the things that made me fall in love with her in the first place, she NEVER judged me for anything from my past, and there is plenty that she could, and it's the reason that in one way or another I will always love her! THANK YOU for coming, meant a lot to the guys, and it meant even more to me.
We also got a kick out the fact that we were feeding some people that were close to our area. So in a sense the "homeless" were feeding the community, and no one ever would've known ;)

However this isn't really about humanity, or freedom, or any of the other things discussed, when you break through everything it came down to one simple formula.... FUN!
We had fun right from the get go! Watching Pops at 6:30am meeting us in the park, and maneuvering his way through a complex maze of sprinklers across a field. Almost ninja like, in a slow shuffle, without ever feeling a drop, or dropping the ash from his cigarette.
It was moments of pure fun and laughter that made this 4th of July a success from the moment we got up, to the moment we went to sleep.
I thank you all for making it happen, but even more I thank ourselves for still having the laughter in us through all that we are going through. Spirits like this, you'll never keep us down long!
Happy Summer everyone!
Gary aka John Doe

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