So many thoughts are flying through my mind from my visit to Emerald City and its surrounding bridge communities this past Sunday.
Demetrius was asking me about my move to my new apartment from the house that my apparently-soon-to-be-former wife and I rented together about eight years ago. He was asking me if I saw this transition as the end of my marriage. We talked in depth about this and about related issues as we sat at the entrance of his tent on the sidewalk in Emerald City.
Shortly thereafter, I made my way over to Frankford Avenue. As I pulled over to the curb, I waved to Melanie who was standing there, a bit wobbly from her recent 'medicine' dose but fully aware of her surroundings. She returned my wave with a smile and said "Hi Chris." as I got out of my Uplander. She did so with all of the normalcy that one neighbor would greet another. We talked as neighbors would, not about drugs nor homelessness nor anything else of obvious relevance to our immediate surroundings. We simultaneously and naturally reached out to each other for a hug, the hug of friendship between two souls who have not seen each other in days.
Further down the sidewalk, I met a long time friend from this community who has relapsed. He seemed saddened and embarrassed to be "caught" by me as he injected, albeit unintentionally, in front of me. I gave him a hug and we conversed a bit about the stuff of his life not otherwise associated with bridge life.
Still further down the sidewalk, as I was calling out "Banana Man is here." a tiny voice belonging to a tiny and delightful pigtailed young lady who I need to get on my knees to hug popped out of her tent. Like the others before her on this visit, we conversed about the stuff of life and not so much about the stuff of addicted/homeless life.
Why do I share these short stories with you?
I'd like you to know that these addicted and homeless men and women were men and women before they were addicted and homeless.
It breaks my heart to know that some of them, the ones I've specifically mentioned here and/or others who I know, are at such life risk by the City of Brotherly Love if they don't comply with eviction: the City's solution to their medical/psychological/spiritual situation.
These are human beings worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love. When will we begin to understand this?