With eviction notices having gone up on Frankford Avenue on October 15th, the process of finding housing for anyone who was "eligible" and "ready" was put into high gear.
Before I get to the part of this story involving a particular living room floor, you need to understand that for many people who find themselves living on the streets, the sidewalk around and under their tent becomes their home. The residents of neighboring tents become their neighbors. Some people living in these situations seemingly forget that there is another way to live.
I've shared with you from time to time about how I've sat outside of a tent and chatted with a person or group of people in the same manner and with the same level of comfort that you do so in your living room with your friends who have come to visit you in your home. Your living room has walls hold paintings. It contains a sofa and chairs on which to sit and tables with table lamps providing light. These under-the-Conrail-overpass living rooms have a wall, heavy posts that hold up the bridge, loud cars and motorcycles and occasional passersby who shout various vulgarities at the residents who they don't care to know as humans. This is their living room.
Most of the people I've written about in this blog series are now in housing. Some of the men and women I've come to know and love moved into their new homes throughout the city before I knew they were leaving. I can only hope to visit them sometime soon, this time, in their apartment homes.
This past Saturday was the exception to that. This past Saturday, I helped a friend move some of their belongings to the new home of a mutual friend who had just been granted her new apartment. With pride and relief in her words and tone, she gave me the grand tour of her home. It's a one bedroom apartment with a large walk in closet, open kitchen and spacious living room.
The Living Room
In her living room containing a sofa and two side tables topped off by table lamps, "Allie" started unpacking boxes. This was her moment to savor. I wasn't about to "help." The first box was filled with small decorative items, some of which were from her previous residence under the overpass. Allie reviewed each item, occasionally shared a story with me about it and placed it on her bookshelf next to her apartment entry door. As she did so, I sat on her living room floor and savored every second. At one point, I even laid down and said "Allie, do you understand how happy I am for you and to be here and laying on your living room floor!?" She smiled and kept unpacking her items, placing them, arranging them with pride, on her shelves next to her door in her apartment.
There are a couple new ingredients in Allie's battle with addiction. Dignity and pride have joined forces with Allie's already existent hope and determination in ending her ongoing battle with the disease of addiction. Yes. That's right. In case you thought otherwise, let me clarify an important point. This receipt of housing for Allie and the others I've come to know and love, was not contingent upon being "clean" of drug consumption. Allie has shared with me her dignity and pride bolstered plan to put her need for medicine behind her. With dignity, pride, hope and determination which live inside her and with the support and prayers of people who love her, Allie will succeed in her journey toward achieving her drug free life and her lifelong goals.
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