The Face of Homelessness Isn't What You Think

lincolnparkchurchThis is a photo of a church in the trendy Lincoln Park area of Chicago. It’s also been my home for more than a year.

If you’ve read this blog in the last two years, you know it started as a way to talk about my problems with Parkinson’s Disease. I try to keep it light and make it funny because who wants to read dark, depressing shit all the time. Trust me, it’s there.

It’s also very personal. You give away a lot of your privacy when you do this. You need to make decisions on what to share and what to keep to yourself. It’s not easy to do. This was something I decided to keep private…until today.

There is no typical homeless person. My story is a little different. Some was because of a bad decision….some couldn’t be helped. It was a bad combination.

Mine started with a death of a friend. One night we were out to dinner. Two hours after dropping me off, he was dead of a heart attack. It was devastating. I still can’t figure out why.

About a week later, my step-daughter died after a long illness. It was expected but it hit me hard.

In the following few weeks, two more people I knew died of heart attacks. Four dead in one month. It fucked me up good.

At the time I was working at a job I hated. The money was good but I had a knot in my stomach every time I went to the office.

So I did the introspective thing. Yanno…life is too short not to be happy. I’m going to make a big change. Yep…I quit the hated job. It felt great.

Gave up the money. Gave up the insurance. Gave up the security.

I started looking for another job. Couldn’t find anything I really wanted to do but that was okay….no urgency….yet.

And then I got sick…..

Parkinson’s doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time to get a correct diagnosis. But in the meantime, you’re still feeling ill.

More than the tremors and the bad balance, I was very tired. I could work part-time but I was never sure what hours I could work. I never knew when I would need a nap. Employers really don’t like you sleeping on the job. Go figure.

Now you’ve got no job, illness and you’re starting to run out of money. You know this is going to have a bad ending.

I end up at this shelter in Lincoln Park. Lot’s of restaurants, near the lake. Great real estate. Location, location, location!

When I got here, I was a mess. I needed a lot of help. I got it from a variety of sources. I’m much better now. MUCH BETTER!

So why am I outing myself today? Lots of reasons.

I recently told my story to someone I trust. It was painful and heart wrenching but I didn’t seem to be embarrassed about it anymore. Shit happens to everyone. This is my shit.

Next, one of my fellow residents died a couple of days ago. He was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and is gone in less than two weeks. It’s been very sad around here. Lots of tears including plenty of my own. This may have been my come to God moment that made me realize I could write about this.

Plus, I’m leaving here in ten days. My situation is much different and better than a year ago. My time here is up. So I’m taking a month long break from winter and my life and heading for California. Swimming pools, movie stars. Friends and family. I think this is a good thing. Reality can wait until I return in March.

Finally, I’m going to write about this occasionally. Yeah, I’m going to add homelessness to my repertoire of topics which includes Parkinson’s, Nazis and Antisemitism. Yep, it’s going to be a laugh a minute around here.

I’ll let you know more about my story and some of the others I know in similar situations. They’ll be some success stories and some heartbreaking failures. It’s an important topic and I think it’ll be interesting to get the point of view from someone who has experienced it. No sugarcoating.

That’s my story…a least a small part of it. Trust me, I know it could be worse. I could be living on the street or sleeping on a train…and yeah…even I hate those guys sleeping on the train.

I’m a little worn out from writing this. I’m going to go take a nap. The good news is I have a bed.

I have a lot more stories like this…some are even funny. You can get them sent right to your email. It’s really simple. I promise it won’t hurt
Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment

  • Advertisement:
  • Advertisement:
  • ChicagoNow is full of win

    Welcome to ChicagoNow.

    Meet our bloggers,
    post comments, or
    pitch your blog idea.

  • Meet The Blogger

    Howard Moore

    Every five years or so I decide to update this section. I can't believe I've been doing this for close to ten years. The last time I did this I was close to sixty years old. Now I'm just a few months away from the big 7-ZERO. Scary AF!!! I'm pretty sure I won't be doing an update when I hit 80, but you never know. But until then, lets just be grateful.

  • Tags

  • Categories

  • Latest on ChicagoNow

  • Advertisement: