Adventures in homelessness


Adventure by Merriam Webster defines the word as:

Full Definition of adventure

  1. 1a:  an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risksb:  the encountering of risks <the spirit of adventure>

  2. 2:  an exciting or remarkable experience <an adventure in exotic dining>

3:  an enterprise involving financial risk.

The process of being homeless encompasses all three of the definitions that Merriam defines.  Adventure can be a great thing – like being on a roller coaster, but when out on the streets, too much of it can make a person feel as if they’ve ridden the ride too long and now they are about to puke.  Everyday is an adventure to a homeless person, it just depends on what stage of the game that you are in, that makes the adventure feel like heaven or hell.

The part about undertaking danger and risk, seems to be where I’m at at this point in my new shelter situation.  There are many people in the shelter and you never know what personality or behavior you are going to get from a person from one moment to the next.  The experience is something akin to walking on eggshells.  Always watch what you say and remember, please and thank you go a long way with this group.  My heart races a lot and there are many times when I hear something that I really feel another shouldn’t be sharing, but you learn to let it go.  People can be both introverted and extroverted in a shelter, I am the former, it is sometimes easier and less risky to navigate a shared space if you keep to yourself and not say too much.

Everyday is exciting in a shelter because you never know what you are going to run into, the other day it was the Denver Police and the Paramedics, tonight might be the same way too.  Not all things in this environment are bad, such as when a person finds a job, completes a class, reaches out to family that they have not spoken to in a long time.  These are all remarkable experiences. Small things that people take for granted in a so called normal environment are quite rare and extraordinary for the homeless, whereas what’s considered adventurous and outlandish for the day-to-day community is just run of the mill for the shelter.  Who’s right, I don’t know, I only know how it is.  As I’m writing this I realize that to be part of the normal world would probably take me out of the shelter situation.  I understand that my life is not considered normal in any way possible, don’t know if that’s good or bad.

An enterprise involving financial risk, well most people are homeless due to financial reasons.  In fact, the basis of being homeless is that you can’t afford a home due to the fact, most of the time, that you have too much money going out and not enough coming in.  There tends to be a belief that the homeless are incapable of figuring out their finances and that is one of the reasons that they do not have a place to stay.  This couldn’t be more untrue.  Homeless people have to be more creative than anyone else when it comes to finance just to get the basics that they need to survive.  I knew of one woman who used to knit and crochet things for money.  I’ve heard of many different ways of making money from selling cigarettes and food to walking people’s dogs in order to make ends meet.

All of this is adventure, but it’s also survival -where the two meet and separate vary depending upon the conditions of one’s life.  My everyday life is probably considered adventurous to others, but for me it’s just a daily routine.  I think that we all live in our own little realm and we make do with the things that we have, those things might be physical like a home, car, clothes; mental – like good or bad mental health; addictions- crack, sex, coke, meth, cigarettes, booze and the list goes on and on. Whatever it is we have we make do with what we have and base our lives around it, then it becomes an adventure.


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