This parallel observation came to me one afternoon while working in a cafe and thinking about the upcoming The Bloom. The theme is joy and sorrow.
In walked an old customer who I hadn't seen in over a month. It was good to see him back at the cafe. It also brought up deep emotions, ones better expressed as a parallel observation than as fact.
For years he spent his days wandering the same streets pushing his shopping-cart-home. He spent his nights under freeways or tucked away in parks. He wasn't homeless. He was houseless.
Now, he lives in a cube where he can touch both walls if he stretches out his arms just so.
"How's it going," I asked one afternoon when his feet burned and his soul stirred him back to the neighborhood.
"Man," he replied, "I'm livin' on the inside." And his voice cracked in that way when stress becomes physical.
"Hang in there," I said unsure of any appropriate response.
"I'm tryin'," he said. "I'm tryin'. And uh.....thanks."
"For what," I asked.
"For always treatin' me with dignity."
"Is there any other way one should be treated?"
"No," he said, and I could see the corners of his eyes wet. "It's just rare."
He walked out of the door and as he walked down the street I watched his hands push a phantom cart.
Now, he's not houseless, but I think he may be homeless.