Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sleep In: Almost Home

It is 7:45 AM. The organizers woke us at 6:00 AM, offering coffee and donuts. Natasha, Matt and I spent about 25 minutes trying to fit our sleeping bags back into their bags - ah, the struggles of privilege. Then I drove Natasha home and stopped at Hoi Polloi to collect my thoughts.

I just can't go home and lay down to rest.

Last night was the coldest night in my life. The sleeping bag was pretty rugged and I was dressed warmly, but the top of my body was cold until I pulled up my little pallet from underneath the bag and wrapped it around my body. Apparently, I did sleep because Natasha complained about my snoring.

However, I woke up every hour with a start and feeling very disoriented. I would briefly tussle with the notion that I could simply get up, drag my crap to the car and be done with this whole cold, hard sleep thing. Then I turned over and tried to get back to sleep. I was grateful when 6 AM rolled around. It was over. For me. As Matt helped Natasha get her gear together, I wondered where he would go and what would become of him. He assured me with a congenial smile that he would be fine. I gave him my card and invited him to call me on my cell so we could have coffee some time. How lame is that. I was overwhelmed at that moment with the urgent need to *do* something to make things better for him. Or for me?

Because what I did not do was ask him more concretely what I could do. I made a very human connection with someone and go home knowing he is sleeping under a bridge. How is that even possible? How do you make that leap from awareness to action? Did I just say that?

This morning, folks have been asking me how it went. I don't have an answer that I can boil down to two or three coherent sentences. I find myself going on and on to the point that they get quickly bored with me. Saying "It was good" seems ridiculous. How do you measure success when you are a mere participant? If I organized it, I'd count who turned out and how long they stayed and how many letters were written.

I can't say it went well. I don't feel buoyed by my own good intentions. As I left the parking lot, I found myself irritated with the woman in front of my who didn't understand pre-pay parking. This experience left me with no sense of inner enlightenment or karmic connection with my sister and brothers.

I just feel angry and tired and cranky and cold. I want to cry and I want to email Tonya Payne and I want to go home and start getting ready for our Halloween party.

I'd sure appreciate if you could help support the good works being done by the advocates of Community Human Services Corporation. This is the place where you can mail a check. Maybe give up a latte and muffin and send your $5.00 in?

Community Human Services Corporation
374 Lawn Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
attn: Sleep In for The Homeless

As I look over the entries from last night, I see a lot of typos which I am going to leave because it reflects how hard it is to type in the dark, sitting on the porch of City Hall in 40 degree weather. All of the mistakes are mine ... they are not a literal translation of Natasha and Matt, both of whom were very eloquent and thoughtful.

Thanks for reading.


  1. you've done a good thing. you've brought it home for a lot of people. maybe they will keep it in their hearts. at least long enough to help or long enough to change some preconcieved ideas.


    i admire you.

  2. Hi Sue, Thanks for writing all this out. I was at the event last night as well. I think I saw you with your laptop, though i had no idea you would post what you were typing to this site that I visit so frequently. It was very much out of my comfort zone to be out in the cold, sleeping on hard concrete with the faint smell of cigarettes and loud noises of cars driving by. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!