My Turn

Little separates homeless from ‘homefull’; get acquainted


6:37 p.m., June 9th, 220 Albright Street: Sunset throws its blood-orange afterglow on the pale, blank, aluminum face of the Taos Men's Shelter. The homeless men are fearful, cagey, and aware of me, as I am of them. The tattered, donated leather couches seat the more disturbed among us, as DirecTV entrances them in a love scene between Shia LeBeouf and a heroic alien intelligence who calls himself "Optimus Prime." It's dinnertime, and all souls beneath this roof are grateful for the sustenance provided for them - by you. Even the most most disturbed; especially them. Late for dinner, a jovially imbalanced character storms across the raised threshold of the lonesome trailer: "What's up, Losers!" It's a moment that embodies perfection. I try not-to, but then laugh out-loud. Thank you, gregarious homeless guy. That was talent.

Losers. Indeed. The homeless. The word itself, indicates people who are without. Without something vital, it seems, to the well-adjusted, and to the children. A place to be, where nobody can boss them. A place where nobody can judge them. A place where they can make the rules. A place where they can make love to someone who truly cares for them. These men know no such place. They have found themselves unable to put their game-piece on the board of the public, inherently judgmental world of local (or national, or global) commerce, in order to earn a currency-based respect during the workday...enough to retire - exhausted - at that day's end... to a sanctuary of their own, for "shelter" from that same cold judgement.

You know the judgement I speak of. We offer-it freely and daily to one-another; our donned masks of officialdom - our "jobs" insulating us from the reality I'm writing about herein.

Make no mistake, Taoseños: The homeless here live as well as any human beings who tow the same line in the world. They camp, sleep in the trailer when they need, come by for breakfast and dinner, every day or when they want, and receive resources and counseling as-needed. They stand in awe-of the same sunsets that you do, They have hopes like you do. They dream of a better life - the way you do. They accept a state of camaraderie from one another in their plight - the same way you do - at work, usually, which most of you perform in order to prevent yourselves from becoming, well...them. That's no true, spiritual calling, or direction, or any kind of personal authenticity that I'm pointing-out here. For too many of us, we are simply earning money to prevent ourselves from having to be viewed, as one of them. All of the evil doing of the oligarchical class is conceived and successfully executed by the the level of fear around money; it's a lock, almost every time. Money works for some things. For being penniless, it's miraculously effective.

But who among - us, weeps for the non-homeless? The "Homefull"? Just look at them, shivering denizens with their attentions transfixed on the mortgage that is tied to a loan, that departs later from the actual monetary value of the property when the market tanks because this satisfies the needs of big banks and politicians in our country. The New Mexico Gas bill, the cable, the renters or homeowners insurance, the leak in the roof, the circuit that keeps tripping the electrical, the weeds in the yard, the mice in the garage - the distraction from their primary directive: To love their neighbor, as a person, as something more than a mere competitor; to pitch-in as a member of the community, and find tribe or clan while attempting to solve the problems that face us all, unilaterally, as Americans; to solve the problems of which no man or woman can be exempt, regardless of how wealthy.

The homes of the Homefull, take too many of our critically important people out of the game, by allowing them to imagine a counterfeit safety, insulated from the game. Until the moment that home gets robbed, of course; or foreclosed-upon, or burned to the ground. And in such a moment, they belong to us - all of us - once more. Welcome Back, critically important human who was wrapped-up in your Homefullness.

And so, I offer this prayer for the Homefull. They're renting and gaining nothing. Or, they're on-the-hook for 30-year ARM's that make lending institutions wealthy, out of a simple, increasingly futile desire to one day reach such economic heights as to become the lender. How Middle Class sweet. So, for too-many, renting, or borrowing (in order to carry the title of "Owner," a sham with tax incentives, an entire industry of lenders writing the rule-book) can be viewed as fear of showing-up for dinner at 220 Albright St., and having a gregarious character, himself a total loser, call them...a "Loser."

Given everything I currently understand: It wasn't so hurtful to hear. It was true. It's just also true, that the Homeless don't have the market cornered on suffering. As the one percent drives the Middle Class downward to becoming the poor, these two groups will be wise to get acquainted. The point of living is happiness. And in this effort, we all have a home, and we're all in this together.

Pitre lives homeless, at times, in Taos.