It’s the coldest night so far this year, and I can’t stop thinking about the young homeless man who lives in Elmvale. He used to sleep in the post office at night. Then we got this letter.
Tonight, I chatted with him in the lobby of TD Bank. He looked pretty comfortable lying by the ATM, bundled up in his worn sleeping bag and parka, but I doubt he’ll be there long because the building has cameras.
Every time I see him, I think about how desensitized I was to extreme poverty while living in Toronto. Would I have noticed him, young as he is, if he’d been tucked into some archway at Yonge and Dundas? Probably not.
I also think about the invisibility of poverty in places like Elmvale.
Friends who work in social assistance say north Simcoe County has more than its fair share of challenges — addiction, violence, teen pregnancy and hunger. My mom, a former teacher, would come home with stories of students struggling and failing to break the cycle of poverty.
As I type in my pyjamas — with my partner, my dog/furnace, and my sleepytime tea — I am so grateful for the people and things I have. We are fortunate ones.
Last January, in my usual post-holiday melancholy, I wrote a list of 29 gifts offered by the year 2013 – one for each birthday gone by. It was like sunshine on my face after days of cold and dark.
Sunshine on our faces.
This January felt entirely different. After happily bouncing around Europe for a few weeks, I came home rested and excited about my engagement.
Now I’m settling into the usual winter doldrums. Brushing my car off every morning is killing my soul. My face hurts when I walk my (lovely and adorable) dog at 6:30 a.m. I’m dying of a vitamin D deficiency. Yadda yadda yadda.
This is us trying to embrace winter.
So here it is, my cure for the murky, miserable winter blues.
In 2014 I…
Played my first round of real Penetang bingo.
Took on a new volunteer role with le Festival du Loup.