At this point, the schema of home for me is rather complicated. I’ve had my experiences with homelessness as a concept in a variety of ways. I listed to a podcast (How Stuff Works podcast) yesterday about the causes, complications, and classifications of homelessness. One of the speakers was careful to define homelessness as someone who does not have a home to call their own. This broadens the definition that I usually think of to one that includes people sleeping on couches with friends and relatives. When I think of “homelessness”, I usually think about people on the streets and in shelters. There is more to homelessness than that, because there is a whole lot more to having a home than simply having a roof over one’s head.
This year, poverty is taking on new meaning for me. Individuals coming in to the food bank I’m working in fall into several categories. Many are single senior women and men, many are Hispanic, and many are mothers with young children. Still after these, there are couples, and single men and women of every age. Some are chatty, some are silent; some are ashamed, and some are grateful (and some are both ashamed and grateful). Today, my team and I worked on sprucing up a house that will serve as an intake center for homeless individuals in this city. Many members of my team are working directly with homeless youth and families, regardless of the story and situation. We are here to help, to make a difference, and to bring hope. Homes for the homeless and hope for the hopeless. It’s got a ring to it, and I don’t want to make it just a shallow statement. So often we don’t know what to do with our own notions of poverty and homelessness that we pass on by, make our judgments, and pretend that it doesn’t exist. I’m still figuring out what to do about this in my life. I feel like I could do so much more, but there’s something holding me back, and I’m not sure what that is.
On another note of “home”, I’m trying to figure out what it means for me. That word has been odd to me since I moved away from my childhood home to go to college. Then, “home” was both my dorm and my parents’ house. Now, I’m trying to make this place I’m living into a home. I’m buying decorations and putting up pretty pictures. I’m arranging furniture and cooking delicious and nutritious meals. Even with these things, it doesn’t feel like home. Even if it looks pretty and smells wonderful, there is no warmth of love here. It is inhabited, but not lived in. I want the room to fill with the presence of loved ones, with friends and family who are invested in me, in my life and my vision. I want someone to share this space with me, and to give me a home for my own sense of displacement, and in a sense, of homelessness.