She’s college educated, well traveled, super smart, funny, sharp, sophisticated, well mannered. She’s talented, hard working, fun loving, sensitive, highly spiritual. She’s a mother and a grandmother. Presently she’s single, but she’s so charismatic, there are always men hovering around her.
Susie isn’t the picture in your mind of homelessness: a fuzzy man freezing on a street corner in Indianapolis.
No, Susie’s rollerblading on a path near the beach in the sun. If you passed her, you would never know she is homeless. She always manages a place to stay. A friend’s couch. She’s an expert house sitter and pet sitter, leaving the house cleaner and better than when she found it.
I have no idea how or why everything tumbled out of control in her life. Awhile ago she asked me for a loan. I felt uncomfortable. I said no.
Why did I decline? I live carefully. My children are adults and I don’t give them money. I have no money to “spare” — but in the big picture, yes, technically I had the money. Her request dredged up so much stuff. Do I not take a vacation because I give my money to Susie? I don’t give to my children, but I would to her? What would you do? I also felt what she asked for, $400, which she wanted for clothes, would be useless, a drop in a bucket and no measurable difference, no desired outcome. Her situation would stay the same.
Am I heartless? Would you give money to a homeless friend? There’s so much that needs to be taken care of to relaunch a life: a huge infusion of cash to get her a place, so she can get a job, a domino effect of things that need to be done so she can live independently. Has she in fact “gotten by” because occasionally people have put $400 her way?
Perhaps if I could have seen a “return on investment” — if several people got together to relaunch her, I might have contributed?
Why couldn’t I give her money? Why can’t she get her life together? Why won’t she apply for public assistance? Why won’t her daughters help and shelter her?
She has defriended me. I understand. She’s hurt and angry.
I miss her, but I am at peace. The friendship was uncomfortable because of the inequities. I couldn’t share the issues of my life because they paled in comparison with her survival issues. I felt guilty for my life, for what I have. I don’t want that.
So, that’s my Susie problem.
What do you think?