Interviewing people you meet at a shelter with sole intent of uncovering the personal struggles and experiences of those suffering from homelessness demands levels of maintained optimism. Every individual I talk to is either at the worst time in their life or has recently experienced it. For many, I can center my responses in forms of compassion, followed by an optimistic view for the future. I do this for myself more than the person I’m talking to. For others however, relentless optimism is not an answer, rather a form of dodging the evident and painful realization that the present situation does not offer any hope for a future. This man was one of them.
“I have an 18-year old daughter at Boise State, well I guess she is 19 now. I am too embarrassed to talk to her. She lives in the dorms.”
“Because I’m embarrassed that I’m homeless. I haven’t talked to her since I was married back in August. We went to this lagoon with all of our family and everything, it was really nice but I haven’t spoken to her since then. I don’t even know what I would say.”
What do you think her reaction would be if she saw you today?
“She would be embarrassed, probably. Nobody wants to have a homeless father, especially a college student.”
I can’t speak for her, but I would imagine most people attending a university, where you are encouraged to have an open mind, would be able to hear out your situation and empathize with you. You’re still her dad you know?
“Yea. It’s just a really tough spot to be in. My dad always told me this, he said ‘Anyone can become homeless overnight’. I have never been homeless. I bought my first house when I was 18, I have owned nice cars, and owned three houses in my life. I mean, I was in upper middle class! Just like that *snap* it’s gone.”