Dream of: 11 March 1998 (2) "Sound Of Strumming Guitar"

I was now homeless and eating a bowl of soup in a homeless shelter. Looking around the cafeteria-style room, at the stubbled vagrant faces of penniless men, I felt out-of-place, wondering if I would be able to communicate with anyone there. One young fellow with long straw-blond hair at the end of the table seemed to have an intelligent face, and I thought I might be able to talk with him, but even that was doubtful.

The sound of singing and guitar strumming suddenly filed the room. I turned toward the front where a line of bearded men were seated with their backs to the walls, looking out on the ravenous paupers devouring their soup. Clearly these bearded men weren't homeless like the rest of us – they were obviously the men in charge of this shelter, the men whose work had provided the shelter. One among them was singing and playing his guitar. These men looked much more like the type of people with whom I could relate, more my equal. I couldn't help but admire their compassion. Maybe later I could talk with them. But now wasn't the time.

My meal finished, I picked up the rectangular wooden bowl from which I had been eating, uncertain what to do with it, wondering whether I was required to wash it or simply leave it. The other vagabonds were busily snatching up blankets stacked on one side of the room. Realizing I would also need a blanket for the night, I joined them, picked up a coarse army-green blanket, and lost my bowl in the pile of blankets in the process. Perceiving that the green blanket might be too thin, I put it back and picked up a heavier pink-rose blanket instead. With the blanket under my arm, I stepped out into the hall.

Several doors led off the hall corridor, leaving me uncertain which way to go. My eyes fastened on a device sitting against a wall, about the size and look of the kind of game with glass windows that has toys in the bottom and a crane-like device to lower to the toys and pick them up. Only this device was filled with translucent plastic tubes of rich red blood. Standing in front of the machine was a line of homeless men waiting to get a transfusion of the blood. The sight seemed a bit bizarre to me, nothing in which I was interested. Instead I turned to another door and walked through.

This was the room for which I had been searching, the large gymnasium-like room which had been set up for sleeping. At first I only saw women in the room, and I asked one where the men were supposed to sleep. She pointed to the other side, where I saw the men spreading out their blankets in rows on the floor. The room was divided in half with the women on one side and the men on the other. I headed toward the men's side.

This was certainly interesting. I had always wondered what sleeping in a homeless shelter would be like and now I would have my first opportunity to find out. I knew I still had some money in my pocket, several hundred dollars, so my being there wasn't absolutely necessary. Yet it was true that I was homeless, and since staying there cost nothing, I saw no reason why I shouldn't. My main concern now was finding a quiet spot where I wouldn't have to listen to anyone snoring. I headed toward an area where no blankets had been spread out yet. I passed a turbaned Indian on the way. He would bow to his knees and then stand up, obviously using his blanket as a prayer mat. He helped make the place seem a little safer.

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