Yesterday when I was driving down the street to pick Charlie up from acupuncture I passed by an elderly woman rolling a suitcase behind her.
At first I figured she was just another homeless woman.
But something about her caught my eye. Something was different.
She looked better dressed than a homeless person typically looks and better cared for.
But at that hour of the morning, why else would a woman be rolling a suitcase down a sidewalk that didn’t lead to much of anywhere?
Then it hit me. She probably hadn’t been out there on the streets long.
And I realized what it was that caught my eye and wouldn’t let the image of her go.
If she had been on her way somewhere with her suitcase, she would have been walking at a different pace. Instead she was walking pretty slow, as if she had no definitive destination. And that’s why the whole scenario didn’t make sense.
She had not yet reached the point where she looked resigned to her fate. She had probably recently had a shower and her clothes were not yet frayed or worn.
So I guess this is what the new homeless look like. The ones that have recently lost it all or just couldn’t put the money together to pay another month’s rent or electricity. Maybe she had lost her car as well, or she’d be living in it.
We will be seeing a lot of the “woman with the suitcase” type of homeless people due to the affects of the coronavirus.
She had probably been okay until our world had been picked up by some malevolent giant and shaken like a snow globe.
She had probably hung on as long as she possibly could until she was forced to leave what was no longer her home and took to the streets with her belongings stuffed into one suitcase.
She wasn’t in a hurry because she probably had no place to go.
I wondered if she had family, people who cared about her. But I suppose if she did, she wouldn’t be wheeling her still clean suitcase down the sidewalk on an early weekday morning. Or maybe she was too proud to tell them.
She was still clear eyed and looked well.
Soon she would get that glazed look in her eye. The look they get when they’ve adjusted to their new and inglorious fate and have long ago grown accustomed to the pity in our eyes.
She would just be another homeless person roaming the streets during the day and finding a dark corner safe enough to sleep in at night.
Maybe her fate would turn and she could go back to a semi normal life. If not, then she’d be one of many suddenly knocked to their knees by a pandemic no one expected or could ever have imagined.
I still see her in my mind.
Unfortunately the giant still holds our world aloft, tilting it precariously in his huge hand. Shaking it while our very lives are possibly forever altered. Staring in at us as we try to come to grips with a new normal.
A time when our lives did not include masks and constantly washing hands and looking at strangers on the street wondering if they are contagious.
While the numbers of the dead and dying continue to climb at an unnerving and inexplicable pace.
And I guess that’s where we’ll stay until the giant sees fit to set our world down and let the dust settle while we regain our footing.