“Oh wow, he stinks!”
I’ll never forget his words. It had been 3 months since I had taken a shower. I knew I smelled bad, he didn’t need to say it for me to know. People could smell me before they could see me.
My hair was knotted, my clothes were dirty and ripped, I was sweating dirt. If you looked at my feet you would have looked away. The sores were so bad I could barely walk. I had walked so much. I had to. It was too embarrassing to ride the bus. So I walked. And I walked. And I walked some more. I walked so much my body told my brain, “You can get where you want to go but you can’t use me to do it.”
I remember seeing my reflection in a window and thinking to myself, “Wow, you actually look the way you feel on the inside.”
One time, I ran into this guy on the street who knew me and when he said hi, I pretended I didn’t know him.
I denied who I was because I didn’t want anyone to see me like this.
Do you know what it’s like to be so embarrassed by your life that you deny who you are?
The officer, the one who felt the need to shout to the world how bad I smelled, he wouldn’t even take me in his car. He was so disgusted he called another officer to come get me! Talk about rock bottom. I was there.
After years of being angry with the laws, I never thought I would be so happy to get arrested.
All I wanted to do was sleep. To find a corner in the hold over and lean against the frigid steel. When you’re living on the streets you don’t sleep much. On the streets you are sleeping on top of ants. It’s hard to sleep with bugs crawling all over you, it trips you out.
But the jail cell… the jail cell was peaceful. There’s no peace on the streets. You are constantly looking over your shoulder, protecting your stuff, trying to stay alive.
In that moment, jail was life.
I had shelter.
I had food.
I had protection.
I was better off here.