The Homeless Chronicles Pt. 2: Why So Many Homeless People Are Nuts

Of course I can’t speak for all homeless people when I say this, but I have a pretty good idea why some of them are so crazy: because of their memories! Do you know how hard it is to forget your old life? Every little detail about your old apartment, your dishes, your clothes that you miss? Every tiny thing you experience on your travels reminds you of how you used to live. For me, it was my beloved bedroom.

I had a beautiful two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in Studio City/ West Toluca Lake. It was on a high floor, so I had a beautiful view of the mountain, and palm trees that I watched grow over the 18 years that I lived there. The apartment underwent several transformations, but the final one was my favorite. When I first moved in, I was in a relationship with someone I loved very much, so I didn’t mind when he wanted to decorate it in drab beige “south-western” style. I painted all of our wood furniture “eggshell” so that it would match all the other beige-ness throughout.

After he left (which you know I’ll write about in another category), I was able to express myself in true fashion: horror. I brought out my old dusty boxes of horror-icon action figures (Alien, Predator, Hellraiser), and framed all my horror-movie posters. I was done with the beige, the bland, the endless yawns of his “spiritual residue.” I could finally be my authentic self, and create an environment that I loved without offending someone else’s sensibilities. I enjoyed that incarnation very much, but I had to change it relatively quickly when I decided to go full-time with my little business. Back into their lonely boxes my miniature monsters went, and everything was restored to it’s original bland state for my clients.

Flash forward a few years to when my business was booming, and I was long-established and could afford to let a bit of my personality slip out. I painted each room a different color (the makeup/wardrobe room was milkshake-pink), removed the furniture and converted the living space into a workspace. The main living area was painted entirely in chroma-key green (including the floor), the kitchen checkered black and white. My bedroom would become my sanctuary, because the rest of the place was devoted to my clients. I painted my walls a deep, blood-red with black trim along the windowsills and doorways. I made two large black panels with Chinese script. I painted my bookcase headboard black, as well as all other furnishings in the room. The final touch was adding a blood-red comforter/sheet set with Chinese throw pillows. Finally, everything was Chinese Happy Red, just as I always wanted. I had a HUGE television up high on a black armoire, and watching my movies (which is my #1 addiction in life) in my red room was my dream come true. I had three cats at the time, and the nights that the four of us snuggled together to watch movies and munch popcorn are among my life’s finest memories.

Years and years were spent in that bedroom, happily doing my image-retouching for the day’s photo shoots, and of course watching my movies. Studying and studying every line of every film I saw, finding the formulas in which they were written. It was the happiest time of my life, and I miss it so terribly that it keeps me awake at night.

I can’t speak for all homeless people, but I can venture a guess that the reason some of them are so crazy is because they are haunted by the comforts that they also miss. The tiny things like the smell of your pillows, the memories of waking to the sun streaming through your window on a warm summer morning. The sound and smell of the lawn next door being mowed at an ungodly hour, the cats going nuts when they see that same squirrel on the ledge, and slamming the pillow over your ears when the neighbor’s car alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Or maybe they also remember the smell of the neighbor frying sausage on Sunday morning, or the feeling of getting up early and walking to 7-11 for a banana and pint of milk. Maybe some of them remember what it was like to be truly loved, and the feeling of her man’s breath on the back of her neck while they woke. It’s our memories that drive us crazy.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Charli Mills says:

    Your post is insightful. I spent last night awake in my camp trailer trying to convince myself it was better than nothing, but I finally drifted back to the home and office I loved and walked through it, claiming I was a ghost in this house now.

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