On my way to work, I drive under a couple of intersecting freeways around a curved road that leads to an underwater tunnel. (Wow. That just sounded way more romantic and futuristic than it actually is.)
There's a cavernous concrete space above an ivy-covered embankment with freeways overhead and on every side. Sunlight streams in from one side, but the rest is sort of sheltered. That's where the homeless guy lives.
Last winter he set up his apartment there, decorating one room at a time with furniture stolen from the Salvation Army drop-off station that is across the alley. First he just had his shopping cart. Then, a couch. Later, he had a double bed that he always kept neatly made with sheets and blankets.
(Did I ever tell you about the date I had with a guy who made about $100,000 a year but slept on a single bare mattress under an old sleeping bag? Homeless dude could teach him a thing or two.)
Homeless guy kept adding to his decor until he had a complete mismatched dining room set, a couple of armchairs, and a storage closet. I loved watching his progress, but he captured my heart completely the day I drove past and saw him sitting in his living room wearing a Santa hat and chatting with a friend who'd dropped by for a visit. Homeless guy has a joie de vivre we would all do well to emulate.
Imagine how heartbroken I was to drive past one day to see two police cars rounding him up and carting away his stuff. What a waste. He'd taken this post-apocalyptic space that nobody wanted, and he'd made it into something chintz-like and cozy. Then all his hard work was demolished in a single raid.
So! I was quite thrilled last month to see that H.G. was setting up again. Just like last year, one piece of furniture at a time. This year, he has a slightly different decorating scheme. But his housekeeping standards are as high as ever; everything is perfectly in place. I suppose he'll be raided again when the weather gets better -- I guess this is just a winter residence. But just knowing that's he's still out there, decorating abandoned urban spaces with his own personal style, is enough for me.
I might even drop off a Santa hat.