Lesli "Making The Best Out Of It"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I’m Missouri born and raised; born at home, on purpose, and almost ten pounds. My biological dad was out of the picture in our life and my mom got remarried when I was three. My stepdad was a super nice guy, but I’ve always been a bit of an “Ahole” and made sure he knew, every day, that he was not my real dad. But looking back now, he was my dad. He kept food in my belly, a roof over my head, and clothes on my back. I didn’t want for any necessities – they were all taken care of.

My mom…she is very manic and struggled with depression When I was older, mom told me she stood over my crib one night when I was only a few weeks old and being so depressed and sad because my dad wasn’t there that she said, “I just want to die but I can’t leave my baby Lesli here with no one to take care of her. So the only logical thing to do is to kill her and kill myself”. To my knowledge, no, she didn’t try to actually kill me. But I have never forgotten that.

I’ve been homeless for twenty years – pretty much since I moved out of my mom and stepdad's house as a teenager. I grew up Jehovah’s Witness, very sheltered and completely stupid about the real world outside church walls or mom and dad’s walls. I moved out of their house and into my own place and in that first two weeks I was out on my own, I experienced pretty much everything. I got drunk for the first time. I hung out with boys for the first time. I even experimented with a couple of different types of drugs for the first time. Everything was so new to me and I didn’t know what to do except what everybody else was doing. Shortly thereafter, with my new freedom, I found myself homeless.

The hardest thing about being homeless is not having a home that my friends can come to when they don’t have a place to sleep or a tent because someone stole it, because the racoons ripped it to shreds or because it’s too hot or they’re too sick because they’re trying to clean up. The hardest part for me is not being able to make sure my friends have a safe spot, a quiet spot, or a comfortable spot to come to when nothing else is comfortable or safe. However, I always try to help as much as I can and go out of my way to do this. Like, for example, I don't get food stamps, but I have fed an entire household of squatters from convenience stores and Little Caesar's dumpsters - hot pizza every night for all.

I also have carpal tunnel syndrome and neuropathy. I have nerve damage from surgeries and injuries, and my hands are what I call “no good” for most of the time. Like right now, they’re completely numb. Other times, they hurt so bad that I can’t even open my hands. However, I've learned - It can rain all the time. Just when you think you don’t have other options in life, sometimes, that’s when you just need to accept the fact that this what you have to work with and you have to make the best out of it, cause no one’s going to hand it to you. You have to put in the footwork. You have to do things that take you outside your comfort level just so you can be more comfortable than you are now and it sucks. One of my favorite phrases, “Sometimes we have to do things we don’t like doing to get the results we want to have.” If you want better, do better.

Thinking about this life I live, I can't help but think about Sugar Booger (her dog). She is my best friend here and I feel horrible because of my inability to continue to keep a roof over our heads, or you know, a bed to sleep in, blankets when it's’ cold…she’s having to live the exact same way. It’s not fair to her. She had nothing to do with it other than me being her human. She’s been a trooper. She’s the best little road dog ever. She’s walked so many miles and rode in my hoodie because it’s too cold for her. I try to pamper her as much as possible and everyone thinks it is completely ridiculous that we play dress up and I paint her nails. She’s a happy puppy and I try to make sure of that.