I’m from Tulsa Oklahoma, and I’ve spent the last year and a half out in Los Angeles. I’ve been going there for the last six years, and I’ve been back to Springfield, Missouri like seven or eight times.
I came back to Springfield this last time because I missed everybody I knew. In this whole town, I probably know like five hundred people. Every single person that is homeless in this town, I probably know them. And I just missed it. I missed the familiarity. I missed all my friends, I missed everybody I knew. I missed saying “hey” or “good morning” or just being known. California is just so big, you just don’t know anybody. There are new homeless kids traveling in there every day. I just like things to stay the same. Don’t change, just be the same.
But when the weather gets bad here in Springfield, it’s hard to find shelter. When everything was flooded, I ended up staying over by the Rare Breed (Youth Drop-In Center), by the side of their building. The rain was coming in sideways, so it got my whole bag wet. It’s just finding an awning. I don’t even think about tents. I was given a tent, and I gave it away to some people who needed it - to this guy and a girl because I’m used to just sleeping outside. I find a cubbyhole. I don't want to set up a tent, leave all of my stuff there, I just don’t trust that much. I carry all of my stuff with me everywhere. It’s hard. It’s hard to find shelter. If you find a tent, the next thing you know you put your stuff in there, and then somebody steals it, or it just gets tore up. It’s easier just to be on the go sometimes.
The hardest thing about being out on the streets is the lack of support. People you love. Stability. The hardest part about being on the streets is - yeah - sometimes it would be nice to just have one person believe in you. I was a troubled child, man. I have had convictions as a juvenile, had seven felonies as an adult. I haven’t been in trouble for a long time. I stay away from trouble now. I don’t steal anymore. I don’t do anything. I’m too paranoid to get in trouble. I want my life to be good. I want to have a family one day. I’m twenty-five and I still have time. I need to make some progress right now. It’s about that time I need to go to college or pick up some trade. I don’t have to be rich - I just have to have enough to make it. When you’re out on the streets, a minimum wage job is everything.
Lessons that I’ve learned throughout the years - appreciate everything that you have. Appreciate your family. Appreciate your kids, your house, your car, your clothes. Your tight circle - the church you go to. Appreciate everything. I think when you’re made lower, and you’re homeless, you are made to appreciate everything so much more.
(Story chronicled in 2016)