Joseph drinks, he does not hide it and is not ashamed of it. He is 18 and homeless. He may do meth as well; most around him do. There are no tell tale signs of this like skin rashes and bad teeth. But, he has enough Boy Scout in him, that to admit it would injure his psyche too much.
The guy is very inventive and resourceful; he also lives in a type of fantasy world at times, to help fight the despair.
He captured my interest one day at the homeless day center when he found some pine boughs and hooked them up to his hat. It looked pretty cool and if he was 12, you would have said, what a creative kid. Trying to camouflage his hobo status I suspect, but then, who doesn’t need a little cover in this world.
His sometime girlfriend, who is any interesting person herself, gave him a puppy a couple of weeks ago. She had five puppies at one point, but left them for two days straight with a friend who lives in a tiny hotel room, while she went on a meth run.
She was in tears the other day when she came back and discovered the friend had given them all away. Julie is in no position to raise a dog right now, let alone five, and secretly she knows it. But that does not make the hurt any less.
I feel in need of a father sometimes myself, but I do the best to supply them with some kind male energy when I can. I give him hobo pointers and put my arm around Julie when she has crying jags. I give them both smokes when I have them.
I was nervous about Joseph and his dog for a minute, but he immediately found a way to register the dog and get all of its shots, she goes with him everywhere usually tucked inside his coat.
His girl or I should say, the girl, will disappear for a couple of days or a week or two even. He just lets her come and go without demanding a thing. She likes his kind nature and needs it to recover from the dark wind meth blows through people. Joseph is pretty wise for an 18 year old. “She can only take people being kind to her for so long,” he said. If you have not a lot of kindness through the years, it makes it hard to trust. I have a little of that in me. Someone will pay me a compliment and I find my self shrugging it off like it is not true.
Maybe being a hobo has made Joseph compassionate or maybe he has always been that way. I know it took me many years on the streets to come out of self-pity and understand other folks suffer too. Anytime he feels anyone at the day center is not being treated fairly, Joseph is right there advocating that they be given the benefit of the doubt.
For a while he and a couple of travelers who got stuck here for a moment while on their way to Minnesota, lived in sort of a makeshift lean-to at the base of some trees. There structure was in the alley, behind the fence of a local business. The business, instead of asking them to leave or maybe even helping them out some, just had the trees removed.
That happens a lot with hobo’s; you show up to your sleeping spot and all of a sudden a huge planter is there or some very large rocks, that type of thing. Doesn’t really leave you feeling like somebody is looking out for you. Makes you feel like the world kind of wishes you would just disappear.
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