Our friend, Even, stopped by tonight to show us his new bike. He bought it with lottery winnings. My husband wasn’t home, so I sat on the porch this evening and visited with him. He used to live in a group home down the street, and could always be found riding up and down the streets on his bike unless it had been recently stolen.
Even has had a rough life. I won’t go into the details without permission to share his life story, but I will say that he has lived in survival mode most of his days. He’s been homeless before for 8 1/2 years, and has been homeless again for the past year. He is already talking of the upcoming winter. He says that age 52 he doesn’t know how many more winters he can handle living homeless.
Even is not the stereotypical homeless man. He is not a drunk, he refuses handouts, and most definitely doesn’t beg. I can’t even get him to eat here when he stops by. He doesn’t ever want us to feel like he is using us. He lives on the spare jobs he can get here and there, and on his lottery winnings. And he always talks of someday winning big and being able to buy a home.
My friend, Even, is a reminder to me that not everyone is homeless because of drugs or alcohol, or the lack of a desire to work, or whatever stereotypical reason I can throw out there. His life is different. Because of some brain function issues caused by an accident early in life, Even appears quite normal but just can’t work the system. He just can’t quite fit the norm or hold a job for long. He mentions that most 52 year olds have houses and families, and he talks of his survival without a home. He explains his pulley system that allows him to sleep high in the trees in a hammock and pull his bike up with him to keep it safe. He excitedly shares that someone has been letting him sleep on their property in an old bus, and that he just got a solar shower. He talks of bathing in the public restroom at the park and how there just ain’t nothing like a real shower.
Even also shares the very dark side of being homeless and being kicked while sound asleep for no reason, having rocks thrown at him in the night by a drunk man who tells Even his life is worth nothing because he’s homeless, of trying to find work but employers not wanting to hire someone without a city address. Life is hard.
Tonight I rejoice with Even because he has a nice new bike. And I am thankful that I was here this evening when he knocked on the door. I invited him back for lunch tomorrow so he can show Scott his bike. I hope he comes.