Without a Home

La Voz de Galicia – April 12, 2024 →

Cristina PatoHe was there, crouched down, shouting to himself, and like so many other times, I wasn’t very sure about what to do or not to do. I wish I knew how to act, but there’s something quite complex in our way of interacting, or not interacting, with those people who, for whatever circumstances, are living on the street, homeless. Sometimes, out of fear, because it’s nighttime and I’m alone, I decide to move on pretending they’re not there, especially when I’m in unfamiliar places. But when I’m in the places I inhabit, in Ourense or in my neighborhood in New York, and I see them often, then I try to approach and establish some kind of relationship with those I recognize as neighbors. A “hello, good morning,” a “how are things going today?”, small daily interactions that I’m not sure if they serve any purpose but that help me feel more human, less soulless. Sometimes I talk to them, other times I leave them a paid coffee, or money, and even though I always feel like I could do more, the reality is that I don’t do more. And then I enter into my usual spiral where I wonder what other people would do in the same situation, or what I would want others to do if I ever found myself homeless at some point in my life. Because from what I’ve learned, the factors that can lead a person to live on the street are within everyone’s reach, and we’re not always aware that the circumstances of that homeless person could very well be ours at some point in our lives. That’s why, despite the distance we decide to take when we encounter them, and even though I still don’t know very well how to act, if I know them, if I feel safe, whenever I can, I sit down to talk to them, to learn from their story.

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