This week, I have been discussing on my blog what it was really like to be homeless and what I learned from the experience.
One of the worst parts of being homeless was not having access to water. No water means no showers. I felt dirty for many, many days.
It wasn't like I could go over to a friend's house and ask to use their shower. I was about a thousand miles from every friend that I had. It really stinks to be the new homeless girl in town. I'm pretty sure that I also stunk.
I found a place in the area that provided showers for homeless people with mental health issues. Since I was desperate for a shower, I went to see if I qualified. It was an eye opening experience.
The place was filled with people with real mental health issues. Whatever issues I had were minor -- even minuscule in comparison. It was difficult to be there. I'm not sure why. I remember that it was noisy, smelly and hot. To say that I was outside of my comfort zone was an understatement. I imagine that the shelter is similar to what hell is like.
I remember feeling like, "How did I get here?" I know how I got there but the why. Why did I let myself get into this situation? Then there was the what. What was I going to do about it?
So I left this shelter in the middle of a nervous breakdown of some sort and without a shower. I cried for the better part of the day. Sooner or later, I quit crying and kept looking for a shelter.
Within a day or so, there was a shelter that accepted me. A shelter with a shower. It may have been the best shower that anyone has ever taken in the history of showers. I felt like a human being for a little while.
There were many different types of people at the shelter. Writers usually call them "characters" but they were real.
One of the ladies at the shelter, who was rumored to be a prostitute, gave me a prayer card. Let's call her, Nina. Nina was a kind person -- hooker or not. I appreciated that she let me keep the card. Neither of us were in a position to be handing out gifts of any sort.
I kept the card for many years. Unfortunately, since I have moved quite a bit and changed wallets a few times, I have misplaced the card. Still, I remember the card and the person vividly. I hope Nina is doing well, wherever she is.
One kind gesture restored my faith in humanity when I didn't have faith in much of anything. It only takes one act of kindness to changes someone's perspective.