Along the banks of the Charles River I jumped awake at zero-dark-thirty. I sat upright in my surplus army sleeping bag thinking I have to get work. I don’t like being late. It took a second for me to realize that I haven’t had a job since I got laid off a few years ago.
The itch is still with me. The feelings of guilt and responsibility and the drive that I have to be somewhere: But I don’t have to be anywhere in homelessland. The itch is the overwhelming sense of unrequited ambition—the lack of purpose and lack of accomplishment which goes hand-in-hand with long-term unemployment and endless homelessness.
It’s an itch that cannot be scratched. In my last job interview before my left knee went south I was told, “sorry sir, we’re looking for recent college graduates.” Now I’m told I have a detached retina and going blind in my right eye. More itches that cannot be scratched. No!
...Three-thirty on a breezy summer afternoon in the final days of June, my green bench served as a cot to lie down on and gaze straight up at the swaying branches and fully-leaved trees. Behind me on the adjacent bike path, joggers run past, some chit-chatting with each other. Suddenly there was a sound of “WHUMP” behind me followed by a swirl of leaves and dirt. A squirrel lay stunned on the grass in a small cloud of dust. Apparently it took a forty-foot drop straight down out of the trees.
The sound of the critter’s bounce caught both my attention and that of a female jogger at the same time, As the squirrel regained its composure, I commented to the woman, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a squirrel belly-flop out of a tree!” We both laughed as the dazed squirrel scampered away and ran back up a tree.