Friday, October 17, 2008

Sleep In Part 40

It is 11:30 and about 30 minutes past my bedtime. I'm sleepy, but reluctant to lay down. I think cold will wear me down soon. I look around the portico here at the City County Building. A lot of people are still awke and watching documentaries on a small television. Others are reading. One duo has a large inflatable mattress, but most have sleeping bags and blankets. I see some of the CHSC staff walking around touching base with people.

It is surreal to realize that on Monday morning, hundreds of people will walk across this very spot. Almost, but not quite, stepping on the bodies of the people sleeping here tonight. The only physical traces of the event will be in the trash cans. Will anyone notice?

A friend of mine said that she was proud of me for doing this. I don't feel particularly worthy of that pride. I want to go home and sleep in my bed with my dog and my partner. I don't want the backache that's inevitable from sleeping on concrete. I want to say enough! I get it! I'm good and I don't need to prove anything.

But maybe that's part of the problem. This shouldn't be framed as solely about the individual contribution, but the collective impact of all of these sleeping bags.

Right now, the host is introducing two kids who aged out of foster care and are living under the bridge. They've been in Pittsburgh for a week. They are 18 each. Cherie is reading her letter to State Senator Sean Logan:

"It is very cold where I sleep. You may wonder why I don't choose a shelter. The reason is the way they've treate me. They've turned me away because I don't have ID. I've been homeless on and off since I was 11 when I was placed in Pittsburgh. I've been sober for 9 months and I'm afraid to be in shelters where they have drugs. I just need help getting an ID so I can get ajob"

There's more. I was a little choked up while she was reading. She spared no details.

Maybe I should lay down.

1 comment:

  1. I can't sleep, so I thought I'd check out your blogging ... up thinking about things, you know. I admire you for doing this, Sue. It is cold out there.