Stories from the Mission... bit 1.
I spent the better part of two years at Pacific Garden Mission, a homeless shelter on the south side of Chicago. They have an amazing Bible program to help guys get back on their feet if you want to join it.One thing I learned in life is that when you hit rock bottom, it can be a firm foundation to rebuild on.
BTW, this is going to be rough and ugly, and by that I mean how this is posted. I have well over 300 hand written pages of diary from my time there at the mission and none of this will be proof read for now. I've done too much work that never pays off for me to make this work... it has to be for fun now.
7-13-11 A year ago I felt like I was building a bridge with no supports, all I needed to do was reach the other side and I'd be fine. On my own, I never did find that far shore and I collapsed. Stubbornly, more than once. I spent the next nine months a hermit in the middle of suburbia, doing my artwork, posting it on Facebook in desperate denial of the piles of un opened mail in a pile near my front door and a complete lack of income.. No problem, God gave me gifts, if I just throw everything into them, they will bear fruits and all will be fine. Soon, I had to cut out booze... it may have been nice to get drunk, but the human body needs food. I am surprised I lasted as long as I did that way. I never went more than 5 days without, an angel would provide or just enough money would appear where I know I had already searched 20 times in my condo already. There are no little miracles, just those that don't fill your demands... it is you that are little.
That is the end of page one in my journal from the mission, which oddly enough I wrote from the back of the note book to the front, heh.
Stories from the Mission... bit 2
In the back of my mind, warm weather was my enemy. I hadn't paid any bill or my mortgage in months, and while I couldn't predict when they would come to reposes my condo, the calender was obvious. The only reason my electricity hadn't been cut off was they couldn't risk freezing my pipes in the cold weather. Without power, I'd loose my computer and my ability to do my artwork and try to sell it on line. Then came that day when my condo went silent. No sound from the TV, no hum of the fans, it all dropped away. I wonder what my last words where on Facebook? Would they become famous last words? I feel bad for all of my friends that knew my situation... after a year of being on-line for close to 16 hours a day, every day and then dropping out of sight for 2 months, would it seem to indicate suicide? After the third day of no power and what was the 5th day of no food, I flipped an imaginary coin and called 911 on a cell phone that had been cut off months before.
I ended up at Alexian Mental health again, but due to a shortage of beds in 2 north, I was in 2 south with the more colorful characters. My first roommate almost never got out of bed and made an incredible variety of nasty noises at times. Booming, smelly noises. On the third day I asked to get moved so I could sleep. That went better till my new roommate started talking quietly on a cell phone late at night. At least I thought it was a cell phone, but nope, he was talking to himself. It didn't bother me too much till he started detailing some kind of murder, so I got myself transferred to yet another room. They make these places look like adventures in the movies, where you meet interesting people. the ones I met that where up where on Thorazine and drooling quietly. A week later I was transferred to Read mental health. It has that 'built in the 60's' feel all over it and I thought I'd never get over the smell. I spent 33 days there when most people spent 5. Most people had families to take them in or had been there long enough to be shuffled off to other places. The first week or so I had fun with the other inmates, but I was slowly realizing the meds I was on where not going to cure my anxiety. Soon they had me on 5 different pills and I was becoming as bland as the lousy food. I didn't smile in the last two weeks and my beard and mustache grew untrimmed across my mouth. At night I dreamed of killing evil things and prayed for death. I called the place purgatory and knew every square inch. The highlight of my day was around 8:00pm with the setting sun we'd see a coyote trotting down a trail we could see through one of the sealed windows. I weighed 240 pounds and weak from a year with little movement... but I had no idea of just how weak.
Then came the day they told me I was going to Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. My mind barely registered what was written on the card, simply an address with no directions. I had a hazy thought of some run down homeless shelter in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Then I was out. After a year of being a lone shut in that barely talked out loud, I was in the hot July sun, breathing fresh air and trying to see, my eyes squinting. I remember the cut grass lawn, how it smelled so much better than the stale air of Read. My feet where not used to the uneven surface and there where no walls to guide my walk. I climbed onto the CTA bus with just a bag of old clothes to my name and a months supply of the meds they had me on. How ironic, that after spending a month on suicide watch, they send you out on your own with enough drugs to kill yourself with. The smells where overwhelming. What with the year of only smelling myself and not having a cigarette in months, it was not good timing to have my nose start working again. I could feel perfumes wrap around my face like a wet towel. I recall standing on an L platform, the Montrose blue line stop, and hearing the stark roar of cars screaming by on either side as I kept from stumbling over the unguarded edge to the rails. Presently I was on the rocking and swaying subway, the lights flashing by as I tried to get my sea-legs, the squeal of the rails so loud that my eyes squeezed shut. I had gone from deaths waiting room to a toboggan flying down the slope of an erupting volcano... and I didn't care, my mind was a blank.