At first I was curious.
Then I was furious.
Now I am bewildered.
Update on my homeless situation across the street:
First there was one. He was polite, funny, put together. Even swept the sidewalk around his tent. Played some awesome music. (And I mean AWESOME) I wondered if I could befriend him. I felt curious about his story. I felt empathy for him. Loooooved the music. (Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Metallica and all my faves!)
But then... I saw his drunken side. The side that brought along his inner atrocious racist, sexist & homophobic self. Every night he'd get drunk, and would go on loud rants that were so vile my jaw dropped. Once I even jumped to my feet and screamed from the window "BLACK LIVES MATTER YOU RACIST FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!!"
He got into heated feuds with random homeless people from the nearby block a couple of times. The cops came by. He turned into Mr. Nice Guy then, of course. Cleaned his act for a couple of days...
Now - he put on a giant U.S. FLAG on his tent (um, yeah... why would he NOT turn his back on this country since it's flat out abandoning him is shocking to me), and he brought along FIVE OTHER HOMELESS PEOPLE to live near him. It is now a homeless compound. My view of palm trees was replaced with tents, junk, BBQ, and piles of trash and random furniture splattered all over the sidewalk. Right at the entry of what used to be 'Skill Center' pre-covid days.
And tonight - our racist dude and some other guy went into it and started fighting, literally wrestling on the ground screaming at each other. The kind of fights that don't end well. You know the kind.
And yes, my heart breaks to see ANYONE having to live on street.
Seeing mental illness uncared for...lost souls...damaged people with seemingly no help.
When I first move to this neighborhood (Venice) and passed the homeless, I'd ALWAYS cry. It didn't make sense to me. No, it DOESN'T make sense to me. What kind of a society lets its people live like this? Neglected by Capitalism. Where is the love? The families? The community? The CARE?
Slowly I started seeing the complexity of the homeless community: The drug abuse, the theft, the mental illness, the violence.. I also started feeling unsafe entering and exiting my building. And the guilt of feeling the complexity has shown up as well. I wish I could see this situation as simple, as black & white, as powerful/powerless, as if the homeless are victims of the system and we must help them at all costs.
But when the victim appears to be a predator, the shades of grey start appearing.
We can say that is the outcome of the system as well.
We can. And why not? Let's say that. Still doesn't make the situation and living around it any simpler.
It's not simple.
It's not black or white.
It's a whole lot of grey.
And it's a sad shade of it, for sure.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman