Her looks are a little like Sinead O’Connor’s and like that Irish Dervish she keeps her hair extremely short. Trying to hide her beauty and femininity, I imagine, but this is impossible.
Where to begin? I guess I will start with the funny. This big burly guy was getting off his bike; he had a crew cut probably 260lbs, tattoos. I say, “Hey man do you have a cigarette?” He looks at me like he is a little offended, (some people do when you ask for smokes).
A few seconds later he says to me that I should use “feminine pronouns,” when addressing him? …. her?
So I start in with the honeys, darlings, and sugars. Portland has always been a very politically correct, liberal city and you can tell this guy clearly enjoys being part of the trend. He has some kind of emotional or mental handicap but is sweet and sensitive. He cautions me his boyfriend will be jealous if I continue to call him girlfriend.
Julie and I became good friends and there are a few more stories about her coming. I believe every human has a right to define themselves, regardless of societal norms, however just because of how she looked I kept using masculine pronouns. One day she asked sounding a little hurt, “When are you going to remember?” “Well it might help if you shaved now and again,” I joked.
~ October 14, 2011
At a garbage can we both were investigating I looked down on one of the most classically pretty faces I have ever seen. Her eyes were clear and kind, which was surprising for a street urchin; most have faces and eyes clouded with worry, sadness, and the loneliness. Her body however was carrying a load of anxiety that worries me still. She was dressed in camo from head to toe and big strong hiking boots.
We hobo together for a while and her story slowly comes out, it isn’t pretty, but she has a sense of humor and an openness that gets her through. Her eye for cigarette snipes is far quicker than mine, which I find hard to believe. She is far too thin and doesn’t realize it. She shows me what she believes are strong legs from all the walking she does.
There is muscle there but it looks like it is attached to tooth picks. I nurture and give her as much affection as she will allow. If you haven’t guessed, she was violently raped at some point in her life, and had a ballet teacher who had her on a 300 calorie a day diet. She told me she has been paddled back to life seven times after suicide attempts. This absolutely breaks my heart. But, I see the light in her eyes and am confidant those dark days are behind her. Please send prayers for her sweet gentle soul. Love, John.
Hobo John found himself homeless in the Florida Keys ten years ago and is sharing his stories with us. His story can be found here:
John wants you to know: “I’m not for the government doing more to help these folks. Their help tends to come with a lot of humiliation, stipulations, and rules, but I am for us finding our hearts again as a people and taking care of our own.”
Thanks – would love to hear from you;
— Hobo John