Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homeless in Oklahoma City, OK: Clyde

by Al Griffin

Sitting on a bench in the pre-dawn glow of a streetlight, Clyde drooped forward, half asleep and bundled into coats and sweatshirts with hoods piled up on his neck. On his head he wore two baseball caps. As I walked up, he opened his eyes and stared for a long time. He smiled a little when I asked if I could sit on the bench.

Clyde dropped out of school in the 6th grade, he said. Born in Norman and growing up in Moore, he worked at fast food places doing the usual entry level jobs for years, but a downhill slide was inevitable due to Clyde's lack of education. Clyde ended up on the streets about 5 years ago. He doesn’t have much hope of finding his way out of the current situation.

He smiles and talks freely, answering questions without any sense of loss or deprivation in his life. He seems to accept his circumstances as the permanent condition of his life. 

Sometimes I think the indomitable human spirit shows through these who drift from day to day on the street. They carry a spark that will not be quenched by circumstances so dire others cannot imagine them. Those of us who have everything we need to make life good on so many levels will never understand the ability to plod onward from day to day in an existence so bleak, so devoid of hope, so cold and wet and hungry. 

Other times I wonder if the ability to carry on into the dark face of utter hopelessness is not just a biological necessity like a moth flying toward light; without thinking or feeling or understanding, the creature gropes onward for no apparent reason.