Dean and I think there is a 40-50yo woman sleeping in the park across the street. We've run into her several times now on our after-dinner walks. She is dressed well enough, and is holding some plastic folders in her arm, as if she is just coming home from work. But then you notice the couple bags of belongings stuffed under the bench, where Dean found her napping one afternoon. We talked to her briefly, and she was very vague, a little anxious, possibly chronically mentally ill. We feel sorry for her, and wonder why she isn't connected to resources downtown, or if perhaps she is fleeing those resources. One of our neighbors has chatted with her, too, and brought her some fried chicken and some toiletries (there is a nice public bathroom with a heated air hand-dryer in the park, where one could wash up and change clothes). We brought her some bread and cheese last night. Dean asked her her name, and suggested to her that it might not be safe to be sleeping in the park at night. But who knows, maybe it is safer than the shelters downtown. We both feel sort of odd about it. Perhaps a little middle class guilt? Perhaps not knowing if helping (food, toiletries) is really just enabling? Dean half-joked that he would think of her as the Buddha, and treat her with kindness. And see what he could learn from her. Who knows, she will probably be gone tomorrow.
PS: Did you know Obama published some poems as an undergraduate?