19 Nov 2013
I don’t remember the particulars, the details are lost to me some 20 odd years later. But for a brief period around the time I was 17 I was homeless for 4 months.
Now homeless is relative term. At this particular time I was living in a suburb of Toronto, so homeless wasn’t quite as bad as it would seem. Still, dangers from other people aside, I still didn’t have a place to go, no roof over my head, no bed to sleep in.
The reasons for this period in my life are equally as fuzzy. You could ask my Mom but I bet she wouldn’t really remember why either. For the sake of this story let’s just pick up when I’m out of the house.
There are a few things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life from this period in my life. I never thought that such simple things could continue to carry such immense meaning. But let’s touch on some of them:
Being homeless in a suburb of a major city is a very boring and lonely existence. Since there are literally no other homeless people for you to spend your time with there is very little to do. Compunding my problems, at the time when I was homeless almost all of my friends were still in high school, meaning for most of the time I was homeless there was nobody around for 7 hours out of the day. Not a good thing.
Being that I was homeless I didn’t have a lot of money, and what money I did have, or was able to earn, would be spent on essentials like food. This lead to the public library. I’m pretty certain that things would have gone much differently for me if I didn’t have access to books during this time. I was able to be inside, warm, have a bathroom and keep myself occupied in the fall and winter months in Canada. Just typing this out now, really hits home how much this saved my ass.
I spent my time being homeless in the fall and early winter of Canada (Toronto area to be more specific). This itself was probably the biggest challenge that I faced. It was incrediboy difficult to be mobile and manage the cold. I’m not really sure how I pulled this off to be honest wth you.
This is actually one thing that, to this day, I have a hard time dealing with. Sometimes I’ll be walking around in the late fall / early winter in the Toronto area and I’ll catch a chill that will remind me of this time and it absolutely paralyzes me. I’m instantly transported back to a time when I would wake up in the middle of the night utterly chilled to the bone, not able to get myself warm, and wondering if I would maybe chill to death this time. It ruins me to be taken back.
I remember the cold.