The Homeless Essay

1024 WordsFeb 23, 20095 Pages
Homeless In this essay from living out loud, Quindlen explores the same topic as Barbara Lazear Ascher (p. 145), but with a different slant. Typically for Quindlen, she mingles a reporter’s respect for details with a passionate regard for life. Her name was Ann, and we met in the Port Authority Bus Terminal several January ago. I was doing a story on homeless people. She said I was wasting my time talking to her; she was just passing through, although she’d been passing through for more than two weeks. To prove to me that this was true, she rummaged through a tote bag and a manila envelope and finally unfolded a sheet of typing paper and brought out her photographs. They were not pictures of family, or friends, or even a dog or a cat, its eyes brown-red in the flashbulb’s light. They were pictures of a house. It was like a thousand houses in a hundred towns, not suburb, not city, but somewhere in between, with aluminum siding and a chain-link fence, a narrow driveway running up to a one-car garage and a patch of backyard. The house was yellow. I looked on the back for a date or a name, but neither was there. There was no need for discussion. I knew what she was trying to tell me, for it was something I had often felt. She not adrift, alone, anonymous, although her bags and her raincoat with the grim shadowing its creases had made me believe she was. She had a house, or at least once upon a time had had one. In side were curtains, a couch, a stove, potholders. You are where you live. She was somebody. I’ve never been very good at looking at the big picture, taking the global view, and I’ve always been a person with an overactive sense of place, the legacy of an Irish grandfather. So it is natural that the thing that seems most wrong with the world to me right now is that there are so many people with no homes. I’m not simply talking about shelter from

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