I have never been a homeless person before… i expect it really sucks.
I had a brief glimpse of what it might be like to be one when i was travelling in Switzerland. Having checked out of my hostel early in the morning i was confronted with the reality of having to find a place to hang around from 11am till 8pm when i would catch a night train from Bern to Barcelona.
This might not sound so difficult except that
1. i was on a budget
2. i had already been around the city quite a bit the previous day
3. i was very tired and really wanted to sit down and reflect rather than walk around exploring.
and not having a place to sit quietly and relax had a profound effect on me. I was roaming through parks looking for seats that weren’t occupied so that i could sit even for a while. Searching for toilets was probably the hardest obstacle i faced.
there was a restlessness that i felt that i’ve never experienced before. and it made me very conscious of the people around me, those who were coming and going with a sense of purpose and belonging. I on the other hand was just passing through, with no real agenda or place to go.
Having a house (or base, in this case for backpackers like me) to go back to at the end of the day gives me so much security and comfort that by 5pm i was really starting to get quite agitated. I had a feeling of not belonging anywhere, that i stood out, that i was in the wrong place. And all i wanted to do was go home.
I’m too soft to survive as a homeless person… and i pray that i never have to experience it first hand ever. But my brief glimpse of the lifestyle faced by the homeless, of not being grounded in a ‘home’ is something i will never forget easily.
I hope that it will help me to be less picky about where i live and sleep at night: Knowing that my next bed isn’t in an alleyway or within a cardboard box.