I thought I’d go ahead and lay out my ground rules for interacting with life for the next few weeks.
Since I started this direction in late January, I’ve essentially been auditioning my clothes for a long haul run. And in that very thought process I’ve hit upon one of a thousand ways that I have my friend under the bridge at an advantage; he didn’t get to pick the clothes he was stranded in. Think about how you dress to travel, particularly when you’re headed home. So I begin with the knowledge that whatever manipulation of my life I arrive upon will fall short of the genuine experience. Thanks be to God.
So, my chosen attire:
My red long sleeve Stinky’s Pub t-shirt (I know, hilarious, right?). I don’t know if the place exists, but it claims to be from Calhoun, GA and there’s a skunk with a pool cue on the front and an 8-ball on the back up by the collar. I bought it at as a thrift store as a shirt to wear under a shirt. And so I shall.
A unimportant short sleeve button-down collared shirt. You know, in case I have an interview.
Equally boring but super comfy and breathable brown pants. “Slacks” is probably the actual word.
My sturdiest boxers, long may they live.
A pair of black socks I stole from Britta when I started playing golf. I’ve become committed enough to the sport that I have my own socks now, but these are old favorites.
My beloved 8-hole Doc Marten boots. No real sacrifice here; that’s my usual shoe of the last forever or so.
In addition to all that, I have my Purdue zip up hoodie with a hat in each pocket, one a toboggan and one a… hat. I don’t know what you call it. It’s grey with a brim and thin black stripes. I got it at Target. It was on sale.
The what-what of how:
I can’t begin a conversation with someone who doesn’t know what I’m doing with an explanation. If they ask what’s up with the musky-looks-like-hell scenario that may very well develop, I can briefly explain.
If I wash my clothes, it must be in a sink with hand soap, much like you’d find at a gas station restroom.
If I wash me, same goes. Hand soap over a sink.
I can’t shave. I never learned to use a razor and I don’t have one anyway and I can’t imagine that any meaningful percentage of homeless people carry a rechargeable shaver.
Here’s the more difficult point of execution. I’m going to try to be realistic about how I go about even that new minimal cleaning ability. If you were homeless, no way are you washing yourself every day, let alone your clothes. It’s just not worth the hassle of getting caught/thrown out of or even just embarrassed in a public restroom. In all likelihood you’re just bathing when you must; the planets probably never quite align into all of your clothes being clean at the same time. If your socks smell like cotton candy, your shirt is probably starting to smell like a locker room. If your armpits feel light and airy your head is probably itching like crazy.
If being homeless was awesome, everyone would do it.
As luck would have it, my first real test comes this weekend. In general, I’m going to try to be my cleanest on Sunday mornings. Something tells me that’s when I’ll be in contact with anyone that might bother to be bothered about what I’m doing. But this weekend I have a two-night youth event that ends at the 9:45am service at my church. Which means I’ll even be sleeping in these clothes, which means when I arrive Sunday morning I’ll have been in my clothes for at least 48 hours without pause and not much hope of being presentable. Pride is definitely on the altar as well.
It’s only been 30 hours or so and I’ve already had a church trustee answer the phone, “Hello, Stinky!” (we’re friends; he was kidding) and a staff committee person indicate that he’ll happily eat lunch with me again post-Easter (again a friend, again a joke). It’s only been 30 hours or so and I already can’t see coming out of this with the same outlook on life.
Peace to you,