Wednesday, August 24, 2016

When Your Life Fits in a Plastic Bag

The streets of San Francisco are particularly ripe right now. It hasn't rained in a month of more. No amount of sporadic power washing can peel away the layers of urine that permeate the air. The trees that line the busy sidewalks have brown gravel covering their roots. Brown from a hurried piss of thousands urban dogs moving quickly as their owners rush from one place to the next. The urban planners never imagined a density of a few hundred dogs per tree and only seven of those per block. The pit bulls and the yap yap dogs share the same space, only connecting through scent. 

The same could be true of the downtown area. There is an unmistakable odor, the smell of an unhealthy body known as a city. Everywhere you walk their are bodily fluids to remind you of the person who once was there. There is blood and bandages on the sidewalk. From the home bum who left a pool of blood when he cracked his head on the curb to the junkie that squirted his used rigs on the storefront, DNA evidence is abound here. There is feces going round and round on the belts of the escalator. There is fragrance of hot piss from building to staircase. Finally, there I catch a glimpse of the occasional used condom sticking solemnly to a tire. The soliders have made their last march. I suppose the most surprising part id that someone is actually using them. 

As I briskly move across the plane of biohazardous material, I spot a man in front of me. He has three items that divert my attention from Pokemon Go- A black backpack, a black gym bag, and a black grocery bag. It is clear that these three vessels contain all his worldly belongings. As I see him approach the stop sign, I feel the weight of his burdens on my own shoulders. Not knowing where I was going, holding on to whatever material goods made me feel connected to some sense of normalcy. There were no tampons, no socks, or underwear. Just a blanket in my backpack, a few changes of clothes in the gym bag (with syringes stuffed inside the pockets), a bottle of water,a tie, and an empty can in the grocery bags. Maybe I was carrying HIS stuff- you know him- Mr. Right now. He would tell me he would be right back. I would see him a day or two later when the dope ran out. I would feel like a fool for carrying his stuff until my feet blistered, walking all over to find him. Next time, I will be the one to disappear. It is part of the struggle when your life can all fit in a few bags and all your money goes up your arm. 

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