misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Home, homelessness, un-home-y: the dysfunctional society sheds its asylums

Dear friends,

Occupy Washington. The people in those tents. Night pitch-black; it's pouring, cold dank. It's very hard.

Ray Kachel in Zucotti Park: A New Yorker article put a real face, showed the humanity we all share with the people in these encampments.

Towards the end of Austen's Mansfield Park, Fanny Price changes the place she means by the word home. When she was growing up at Mansfield and talked of the Prices (her mother and father, sisters and brothers) in Portsmouth, she thought of them as home; now she is living with them, and longs to be back in Mansfield, she finds herself calling MP home.

A while back, a friend on facebook and wompo, Diane Kendig wrote of returning to Ohio, as her home, after many years of living in Massachusetts: Home again  Some good talk ensued and one friend said: " Don't think I could go home again. I escaped and do not want to go back. Distant memories ... Some were good, but too many things I could not fix ... I made a new place ... Turned my face away on purpose. Since I sold my moms house in 1998 I have only driven past once. And it did not feel good. Would rather close the door and pick the memories to hold. The others I have released like a handful of butterflies.

To which I replied:

I have no home to return to. NYC meant a lot as a place but I grew to love it only after I married my present husband, and the one home I've had that has been my home is with the same person and we have nested in this house in Alexandria, Va for nearly 30 years now. This place which we've made so comfortable for us, surrounded ourselves with beloved objects (mostly books but not all), many memories of times and things done and feelings experienced all over the house and garden.

And then last night I thought about the Occupy Washington people at K and 17th in DC. The night was pitch-black, it was pouring, cold, dank, dreary.
Every year when the cold comes, I think of the homeless and am aware that there but for Lady Luck ... and so on. They really don't want to just sit or sleep there. So they demonstrated and blocked K street. 60 were arrested. They are up against an obdurate ruthless oligarchy with military to back them up. The photos showed soaked people taken away.

I'm reminded me that once I grew older and left the Southeast Bronx (where I grew up), I didn't see homeless people until the early 1980s. And how quickly homelessness emerged once Reagan got into office. He ended all federal money for building affordable housing -- of which Carter did a beautiful middle class style one in our area, today a very nice place to live. Not tall blocks but garden style apartments. Occupy reminds everyone forcibly for I assume my thoughts might not be typical. So this evening I'm thinking of how we use home emotionally, metaphorically (as a good place we feel is our life, we belong in and it belongs to us) but homelessness we use literally as in without a house to sleep in, no roof over your head (in Italian the literal word is rooflessness i senza tetto).  Unhomey is uncomfortable, maybe uncanny.

On another section of our homeless populations in the US and UK, see Asylum by Payne and Sacks. the article by Scull on this book in the TLS has been scanned in by a decent person.


Tags: life-writing (mine), seasonal, social life

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