The Last Day
It will be -4°C tonight. I will stay at a shelter because it is too cold for me to survive on these streets. Sleeping in a shelter was one of the conditions I set out for myself. I want to know what kind of people stay here and document my experiences. If no shelters are available, I will stay awake at Blenz until the day breaks. Then once the earth is warm enough, I will find a place to rest.
The pain from my feet, the unhealthy diet and not showering over the past six days, made me realize how comfortable my other life was. I told myself that I’ll stay here for a week and so I will. Unlike Misha Kleider’s “Streets of Plenty” documentary, I will actually follow through with what I have set out for myself. Misha ambitiously claimed that he will live out on the streets for 30 days, he only lasted for 25. Once he started using drugs, it didn’t take him much longer to abort his mission. Looking back at his documentary, it was grossly stereotypical. His point of view on the situation was not necessarily wrong, but it wasn’t accurate compared to the experiences I had. The fact that he walked around with a camera may have changed how people reacted towards him.
I am sure that a lot of his experiences were not documented on film either. Most people here do not like to be videotaped. Many of my characters refused to have their real name or photo posted on my blog. And video is more personal and intrusive than one’s name or photo. On many occasions in the documentary, Misha was clearly not alone. A cameraman stood by his side and filmed his actions. However, my experiences have been mostly in solitude. The exception was on my birthday. On that day, my brother and my friends visited me for a couple of hours. Most importantly though, there was no need to take drugs to “experience the homeless culture.” Drugs are a by-product that some of these unfortunate people suffer through.
Contrary to most popular beliefs, the homelessness issue is not necessarily about the lack of food or the lack of shelter available. Actually, I there are many shelters to choose from. However, bed bugs is a pest in most of these shelters. It seems like the number shelters is there, but the quality is lacking. Without analyzing this much further, I will wait until my experience tonight.
Some of the homeless feel that the affordable housing promises are not being fulfilled by our government. According to Gilles, “half a billion dollars was spent on a roof” at BC place, while there is a three to five-year back log on affordable homes. Gilles said that he lives on these streets until he is next in line for a home.
I think I am going to go take a nap on the Granville Strip again. Once I am well rested, I will do my usual walk down to the Eastside. The only objectives today are to meet up with Lawrence, Kenneth, sleep at a shelter and then head back to the other life which I left.