Michael “My Future Is Bright”

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I’m forty-eight, I was born in North Dakota - I don’t recommend visiting there. It’s just cold and flat. But really nice people. My mom, when I was about twelve years old, married an army guy so we moved to Colorado Springs and hung out there for a couple years, and then to Germany - that was my favorite place to live. Then we came to Fort Leonard Wood, MO when my stepfather retired. I couldn’t make enough money down there so I joined Job Corps up in Kansas City and eventually got a job with Commerce Bank working nights - doing data entry. My sister moved down to Springfield area and my parents followed her. I quit my job with Commerce and moved down here to be close. And I don’t know when it started, or if it’s always been this way, but I’m not really good at going to look for jobs. I don’t know how long it’s been going on, but I know a part of the problem is I’m afraid of rejection.

I became homeless on May 2, 2014. But I could tell that way before then that it was leading towards there. Because, the fear of rejection and everything I knew. Plus, you know, the schools didn’t offer me any jobs I could do well. And do good in school. And doing good in school was my main priority. So, yeah, I kinda had some options for not being on the streets. Not great solid options, but options. But I knew there was stuff I needed to learn - stuff I wouldn't learn if someone was paying the rent for me and letting me live under their roof. So I let myself live on the street and gave myself 2 years to get off. Just because I thought that would give me enough time to learn what I needed to learn. And it was about two months shy of two years when I got the job. I was actually off the streets before I got the job because everyone else knew that the job was starting, that I was going to get it - so I got off the street right way.

The part I remember most about being homeless is how much I hated all the moisture, all the wetness, and the cold. I could handle the cold without the moisture, I could handle the moisture without the cold, but the two combined just kills you.

I had a car, but I never really lived in it, if I could help it, because it’s a compact car. It’s not comfortable. I did have to sleep in it a couple times because of a biokinetic study I was doing - I needed to leave really early in the morning, and it’s hard to leave the woods in the middle of the night because you can’t see anything. So, I stayed in my tent the majority of the time. I got really lucky - before I was homeless, I knew I was going to be on the street so I went and spoke with some friends over at Recovery Chapel where I used to work. It’s an organization that helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions, and I talked with a guy that had been homeless in Springfield before and he drew me a map of a couple of different places I could check out. I don’t remember if it was the first place or the second place I checked out, but I just sort of fell in love with it - it was a beautiful piece of land, a couple of cemeteries around, businesses off in the distance where you could barely see them - just really beautiful, got a stream running through there. I lived there most of the time.

I am lucky - I am a senior at Missouri State University, have already been accepted into the accelerated Masters of Business Administration program. So I am off the streets and pushing full steam ahead in school. I can really say, I think my future is bright.