Friday, February 3, 2012
This is the view from our apartment. Before Christmas, someone ordered a big chuck of the road to be dug up. We don't know why - we never, for the two weeks it was left open, saw anyone do anything that looked like repairs on pipes or anything that would explain why they would dig a hole that size in a major road.
They dug the hole, and then it rained. The pit turned into a small swimming pool of mud. Every night we could hear traffic screeching as someone, who did not know the pit was there, would nearly drive into it in the dark.
Then one Sunday morning we heard someone shouting "Jesus! Jesus!" from the street. Thinking someone was calling his name, Tyree went to the window. But no. One lady was singing "Jesus!" at another lady, who probably has some mental health issues. The singing lady seemed to be trying to exorcize the other. Eventually she gave up and walked on. The lady was wearing crown of plastic bottle strips and she was throwing things into the pit. At first she was just throwing trash, but then she moved on to the chunks of cement that lined the pit. A guard who was standing in front of the driveway (that was partially blocked by the pit) would occasionally yell at her to stop, but mostly just stayed away. She seemed to be enjoying making large splashes in the water with bigger and bigger objects. At one point she picked up the guard's stool, but that's where he drew the line and he pulled out his baton as a threat.
Tyree and I couldn't stop watching. Her rage towards the pit was something we could empathize with. We were tired of looking at it too. Tired of hearing car accidents. Tired of wondering why it was even there. When they finally decided to fill it in, they had to pump the water out. They had to bring a generator for the pump because there was no electricity that day.
We live across the street from the Psychiatric Hospital. We often wonder who is left on the inside because it seems like most of the patients are in the street, living behind our building. There is the man with the filthy overcoat, the woman having a daily meltdown at the gas station, the man who kisses his hands and then touches the ground with them every few steps, so that it takes him forever to go anywhere. There is a very small Portuguese woman who sometimes asks for money, who sometimes has her had shaved. We recognize them as our neighbors. Other than the Portuguese lady, none of them has ever talked to us. They often look through us, like we aren't even there. I tried to give the lady at the gas station some crackers one time, but my presence did not even register in her eyes. I have given the man in the overcoat crackers a few times because I often see him pulling out food from the dumpster in front of our building. Rancid, rotten food. Tyree and I will wrap up any edible food that we were going to throw away and set it aside, because we know he will find it anyway. It's a very strange thing to have your personal trash spread out all over the sidewalk. Wrappers of food we brought from home, that are unmistakably our trash, exposed for all to see.
But really, this is not so different from the US, is it? Most of our homeless have mental health issues. Most people in jail have mental health issues. People go through dumpsters, sleep on the street, go untreated in America too. Like I said, I have no idea who is on the inside of the freshly painted Hospital.