24 Hours of Me

If I think about the last twenty-four hours, the best way to describe it is like a roller coaster.

It started with trying to get in at the shelter which does “overflow” on nights when the temperature drops to around freezing. I never bothered to ask the staff there what the policy was, so I was going on word of mouth that they admit overflow people between 5-8 pm. I arrived a little after seven, I think. When I asked the security guy, he gave me a flat “No.” I learned later that they did have overflow that night, but the cut off was at 7pm or at 50-person capacity.

Now that I have a campsite, this wasn’t a major issue, despite the temperature. I wandered around with ten dollars in my pocket—the first money I had in over a week. I needed a phone charger, which goes for five dollars on the street, so that left five dollars. My impulse was to buy a forty-ounce beer, but seeing how I’d been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings lately (albeit for lack of anything else to do and the fact that they are open meetings), I diverted that impulse by buying a pack of cigarettes.

After the meeting, however, I had a burning desire to drink—not craving it so much as just wanting to. It had been over a week since my last drink. I think of myself as more of an addict than an alcoholic. 

I ended up downtown at an occasional spot where I sleep, foregoing my camp for no reason. Maybe it was the distance or maybe I hoped I could sell the monthly transit pass I lucked up on the previous day. I expected that it wouldn’t get too cold since they (apparently) didn’t have overflow at the shelter! But the temperature dropped indeed, and I slept little. 

I made it to a grocery story early in the morning, hands hurting from the cold since I lost my gloves. After drinking a whole carton of iced coffee, I nearly decided to go back to camp and sleep, but instead I started off to catch the bus to the soup kitchen and put the monthly pass to use. 

As luck would have it, I ran into the charity runners I usually run with, but had been avoiding as of late (just don’t wanna!). I walked the trek back with them and attended a rather awkward “life skills” session, which I knew was coming, how I missed the last race (which they had reserved a spot for me at no small cost). I ran with them feeling something like great shame and was wishing I had just gone to the soup kitchen. 

Afterward, I went with them to a special luncheon. It was at a downtown building that included an art exhibit with tons of different works mostly centered on the theme of flight. One work was a slow video of a familiar skyscraper with flames superimposed. The speaker emphasized that it was designed as a pointed political commentary, but it seemed oddly fascinating—as fire tends to be. I confess, I couldn’t take my eyes off the inferno.

The commentary was excellent though.

Following was the best meal I had in quite a while which led to an almost magically good mood. I got to enjoy art, eat good food, and see old friends. I had been treated importantly for the day. I felt noticed.

I want more of that.