Some of Chris’s fondest memories stem from the time he spent taking care of his grandparents. “I would say some of my happiest memories are with my mom and grandparents when I was caring for them. Now that they all have passed, I don’t really have any family left.”
We all start somewhere and end up right where we sit. Where and how Chris landed in the local area experiencing homelessness started with a life change and ended in tragedy. “I was with my girlfriend for 29 years. We were living in a neighboring state. Almost five years ago now, we decided to leave our ranch. The property owner was an asshole so we vacated. We left for this area knowing that we had nothing. We came here, homeless. Then two years ago, she [my girlfriend] got bit by a wood tick. She got really sick and unfortunately, I had to watch her take her last breath on June 11th of 2018. I was heartbroken.”
Chris explained the extent of his homelessness, what keeps him on the streets, and his outlook on his current situation. “I can’t find a job because I have a criminal record which is really hard. I have been doing everything I can to survive. I was born and raised here and I know everybody. I am just waiting for things to come together for me. I need to get working and be in my own home. Every day, I see the chaos and the bullshit that comes with being around other people who are homeless. There is a lot of fighting. I grew up fighting. It was never a good thing, but that’s the way it is around here. I think that comes with the drinking and just the frustration of being homeless. People forget that we are all in the same boat and that being homeless is bad enough. I have been out here [on the streets] for four and a half years and something will come along to pull me out of this rut, but I’ll be damned if I take it out on somebody else.”
Chris holds steadfast to the hope of a bright future for himself and others. “I have been on the priority housing list for three years, but I just have to remember to live day by day and I wish other people could do the same thing. I find happiness being myself. I’m just myself and I do what I need to do in order to survive just like everybody else out here. For me, that’s happiness. I hope that some days I say things and maybe that will help somebody else.”
The final message Chris left us rings true to how he lives his life as a friend, a guide for others, and the calm in many storms. “If you have to be homeless, keep strong morals and keep your hope. Sooner or later things are going to get better. If you are looking at homelessness, don’t look down on people that are homeless. Normally, it’s not anything that they did morally wrong, it’s just given the situation that took place because of life itself. The events of life that took place rendered them homeless. The homeless people are good people, you shouldn’t judge them for their current situation. Talk to them and hear their story before you pass any kind of judgement.”
Author’s Note: We know Chris as someone who brings food to those who cannot walk to the park for a meal, as someone who checks on everyone else before his own needs are met, and someone who is compassionate to those that may not be able to offer anything in return. We think of Chris as a quiet and at times reserved soul. His heart speaks volumes when his words remain silent.
Artist’s Note: Often the stormiest of days and the prettiest sunsets promise a brighter tomorrow. The words Chris shared with us paint a comforting sky after long days. His story reminds us that tomorrow always comes and hope exists on the horizon.