Saturday, April 14, 2007
Looking for home
San Francisco, CA, March 2007 [Click to enlarge]
I touched off a bit of a discussion with my earlier entry on homelessness in this city, so I thought I'd return to the theme.
A colleague of mine pointed out after seeing the initial blog posting that vagrancy is illegal in San Francisco. Consequently, the city's homeless population is engaged in a constant battle to avoid arrest. They load up their carts and move around from place to place, never staying long enough in any one spot to attract the attention of the law. It's an endless quest for...well, not for anything, really. It's an endless quest to stay one step ahead of jail time.
This image haunts me. The look in this man's eyes speaks of a despair that I can't even begin to imagine. As he walked along the water's edge on the uber-trendy Embarcadero, legions of well-dressed city dwellers passed him by. He was completely invisible to them; a mini-drama of a distressed life on the move, taking place literally under the noses of his neighbors.
All I have is a lens and a pen. I can't fix this. All I can think as this man shuffles quietly past me is that I need to ensure such tragedy never visits my own family. I feel selfish for this, but my wife and kids have to matter above all. Then I shudder when I realize that life comes with no guarantees, that any one of us isn't so far removed from walking anonymously through the city, our worldly possessions stuffed into a squeaky-wheeled shopping cart.
These conflicting, dark thoughts echo through my mind as this nameless, homeless man slowly fades into the crowd before disappearing for good.
Your turn: As you watch a homeless person walk on by, what goes through your mind?