Meet Hippie and An Introduction
I wasn’t always a homeless man on the streets and living life on the road.
I wasn’t always moving town to town, city to city, state to state, in search of a foothold, success, or just a place to call home and feel accepted and loved.
My journey through homelessness began during my 25th year under the sun, having just lost an apartment in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio, slowly falling behind on rent because of my strong addiction (at the time) to alcohol. It was my first experience on the streets, and my landlord gave me little notice to vacate the property. Instead of looking into the eviction protocols and fighting to remain housed, I chose instead to accept my fate and make the best of it.
I was born Michael Anthony Glass an hour after midnight on May 28, 1987, and by age three found myself in children services, or foster care. I experienced some traumatic events in my youth, and at seven was adopted into what I would be my family. I grew up from this point on a small farm in a rural county, and developed the manners, morals, and ethics that I still possess at this day. (If I may add that, just because I don’t own my own house, vehicle, and “live on the streets,” doesn’t mean that I don’t possess outstanding character!) Neither parents drank alcohol, smoked, or abused any controlled substances. They both worked and took good care of the house and home.
I started working at 15 and continued to work until I graduated from high school and technical school. A month after graduation I was headed out for military bootcamp. I joined the Army and went overseas for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I returned home unscathed, but I had emotional and mental wounds that are still unhealed. Soon I enrolled in college, attending evening classes off base. After a year I dropped out due to my alcohol problem. By 23 my drinking was so heavy that I lost my license and sold my vehicle to pay court fines and make ends meet. The drinking continued until I lost everything and ended up homeless.
I quickly adapted to my newfound existence on the streets, and oddly enough found it somewhat liberating.
Please understand: I am not glorifying “street life,” or trying to make surviving outdoors sound cool. I simply adapted to this “life” easily—it was emotionally, mentally, and physically stimulating, based upon my training and background. After four years (and many cities and states later) I ended up in a Tennessee jail and prison for burglary, and it was during my time incarcerated that honed my skill in writing. I was released in August 2020, and decided to walk all the way from Knoxville, TN, to Asheville, NC. It was there that I met my wife and soulmate.
We have been together since February of last year and I have faced a whole new challenge on the streets: marriage!
Currently I am writing articles and poetry to encourage, teach, enlighten, and share the stories of my fellow brethren of the homeless community and beyond. Thanks to Speak Up, my wife and I have become ambassadors in the fight to end poverty. We are able to encourage and strengthen others in our community (and beyond) to join and help us shed light on a cause that often goes ignored in our own land.
This piece below will be the first of many.
This is Hippie
By Michael Glass
My wife and I recently spent a day interviewing the homeless in Chattanooga, TN. We wanted to speak with ask their stories, perspectives, and opinions concerning their life on the streets, and the attitudes and treatment of the surrounding community and authorities.