February 19, 2011

I ain't got no cigarettes...

Just hanging out at the library...

One thing I can say for being homeless is that you never know where a day will take you when you start out on it. Today was somewhat cloudy and overcast to begin with, but by the time I'd I'd checked my gear and was up and ready to venture forth into the world, things had changed considerable and it was turning out to be a wonderful afternoon.

The libraries in, Dayton, Ohio, are where some who are homeless or soon to become homeless go to escape the trials and tribulations of the street. There is a gentler, kinder class of the homeless huddled together within it's walls. Individuals with children let their kids play in small groups among the bookshelves. Men sit in front of computers pretending to search for jobs, but the sad reality is that most of them have given up finding work in, Dayton, Ohio and are simply killing as much time as possible before heading home to the homeless shelter at day's end. There just isn't a lot more for any of us to do in this city these days.

Whenever I'm on the internet I don't feel so disconnected from people. I don't feel so alone and adrift upon the barren landscape of what was once a thriving city. The internet provides companionship at a time where it seems I've become some sort of leper to those around me who seem to feel that even acknowledging a homeless person will someone infect them with the same malady I suffer from these days. One moment you're a real person with a home and everything and the next you've become one of, Those People. I'm still me on the inside, but no one seems to see that person anymore.

We've been hard hit by the recession in, Dayton, Ohio. I went to the, Dayton Mall, recently just to hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee. I went upstairs to browse through what had been on of my favorite bookstores only to find the entire second floor empty. All of the things that used to be such an important part of the Mall experience have vanished like shadows in the night. It now looks like this.

This is what a dying Mall looks like.

I think what struck me most about this photo was how close so many people were to the situation and didn't even see it. I think that's how it is with so many of the people living in, Dayton, Ohio right now. There is a general sense of uncertainty in the community these days as the industrial infrastructure and the jobs it provided dries up, leaving more and more people with no other option than to sell their homes, pack up their belongings and move out of a city that has been their home for most of their lives. Schools are closing, homes on the market here stay on the market for two and three years and sometimes even longer. You just can't sell a home in a city where more and more people are abandoning it instead of choosing to move into it. Those who remain in this city are sleep walking through their days. As long as everything is still alright for them they assume it must be okay for everyone else too, but things aren't alright for so many of us and they're just getting worse for all of us with each and every passing day. It's like a cancer, by the time you realize what's happening inside of you, it's too late.

I should get out of, Dayton, Ohio. Unlike so many of the folks living here my eyes are wide open and I see the graffiti written on the walls. My town, the place where my roots have been settled for most of my life is dying, if not dead already. It is time to move on and leave the dead and sleeping to bury what was once a thriving and vital mid-western town. But where do I go? Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky or Michigan? Their towns are no better than the towns here in, Ohio. The recession seems to be killing everything, everywhere. Do I stay here where I am and wait for the inevitable or pursue a ever dying hope that things will be better someplace else? If I perish in, Dayton, Ohio I'm at least I'm on home turf where people know me and I won't fade away in the midst of strangers. I just don't know what to do...

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