I met her about 4 years ago. She came by the church and I sat and talked to her for a long time hearing her entire story. I even started a blog post way back then, I so fascinated I was gonna tell her story but never did, it still sits in the queue as a draft. Anyhow that night I let her stay on the floor of the gym (I used to live above an open gym). And for a few nights after the first. She just seemed she needed a few nights of shelter before she could get back on her feet and back to her family. It was all good, we called her family and arranged for them to come and pick her up. Then after 6 months she suddenly reappeared with no real explanation as to why, when her kids, with whom she lived, were all the way in Stockton. This first reunion was nice but it was the beginning of a trend. She would go for months and suddenly show up one day and stay for months with no real place to crash, each time looking less and less like she used to the first time. There was nothing good for her in Oakland. I'd often ask her why she wanted to live this way and said she had to be here to see the doctor and take care of her papers; social security and such. It still never really made sense. One time one of the guys drove her all the way back to Stockton. For a while, we let her stay on the porch by the door, at least we'd be a window yell away which is fortunate because one night she was nearly raped.
"B, you can't live this way."
It's strange relationship now.. sometimes burdensome - on the heart. She's back in Oakland again. I was crossing the street and I heard the all so familiar..
"Daaaaave, Daaaave, hi, Dave." Coming from halfway down the block (she has amazing vision), and because it always comes from a distance I have to stand there for a few minutes til she gets to me.
D:"Hey, Betty." Anticipating a request. Bus fare or a ride.
B: "Hey, Dave how you doing? I came by to see you but you weren't here."
D:"Yeh I'm usually away at work ... did you ever get your ID?" Last time I saw her she lost her ID for the 20th time - literally.
D:"So what's up?"
B:"I need an address, could I use your address?"
D:"No, it's a church, you can't. How about your sisters?"
B:"Then I have to wait so long to get my papers."
B:"Dave, I have the papers, see? What this mean? What am I supposed to put here? As she points to a line on the form.
D:"That's the number of people you support."
B:"Oh okay, just one then. Just me. How about this?"
D:"Your monthly income, you know, how much you make in a month."
B:"(Amount of s.s.i. check - not much)_."
B: "I was supposed to get this in in 10 days. Has it been 10 days?" As she points to the date 3/27/12
D: "Yeah, B, it's been almost a month - that's 30 days."
She did need a ride to the social security office, I didn't have time but I did need to eat so we went to KFC she wanted Churchs.
And I asked her..
D:"B, you're a mystery to me, why do you choose to live this way?"
B:"Because I want my own place, I don't want to be some nagging in-law."
D:"But maybe the time has passed for you to get your own place."
B:"I used to have my own place. Doesn't everybody want their own place?"
B:"You know what the address is?"
B:"1952 - that's the same year I was born."
"Dave, the house looks just like me. You gotta see. I want to show you."