Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
- Community Blog
- Homeless Native
I happen to be working near Balboa Park off and on and have been able to stroll around before reporting in to my employer. To me it is a wondrous place and reminds me of my earliest days as an infant. I hear the bells from the tower peal out the time every 15 minutes and I am once again a small child riding in a stroller pushed by my mother through the park. On my birth certificate it says my address was a couple of blocks away on Myrtle Street and I vaguely remember the high-stepped upstairs apartment. I believe my father was teaching at Roosevelt next to the zoo. I have such a sense of belonging to this exotic eucalyptus filled forest and when the organ from the pavilion begins to play Bach I am in heaven. Nothing can harm me in my mother's arms.
In later years the park gymnasium is where my father played or refereed basketball leagues. Me and my brothers ran all over the place but were wary of danger and the darkness of the jungle outside. Sure, there was evil in the park but not enough to drive away the original attraction. My uncle witnessed a stabbing near the organ pavilion and soon left the state swearing never to return. We always looked for bats while driving under "suicide bridge" and I know there are runaway children from Mexico living in the park canyons. Bruce Springsteen sings of the tragedies of Balboa Park but it is still a security blanket for me on a bright morning while the organ is being tuned and the bells from the minaret make Mohammed turn in his grave. (He detested the sound of Christian bells). I get to return there this afternoon with pleasure.
I am cautious to maintain that secure feeling while homeless in my hometown. If I should offend the gods this protective shield can be breached and I could become subject to the face grinders once again. It's not that the gods are seeking to punish me but, as Jesus told the disciples, Satan desires to sift me like wheat. For now, all is good but a slip-up could mean a broken down vehicle, an injury, a visit by an uncouth police officer wondering why I have plates from one state and a driver's license from Kansas, etc....That is due to another face grinding episode from 4 years ago that started with a simple inability to pass a smog test and ended up with a Vista cop taking my California DL the night before we moved to the central plains. Now it is a simple case of I can't afford to pay the CA dmv what I owe them and I cannot get a license in the same state that my vehicle is registered in because of this wonderful computer age that keeps the poor locked out of legitimacy. I look around, I saw Savali again today and I am certainly not poor like the walking man. I still have very much and I can go home this weekend and sleep in a bed and play with my kids. But then I'll be back at the bay, sleeping in the back of my truck once again.