7:30 a.m. I woke up in the tent. It was a cold night, probably dipping down to the lower 20°s. I have no more food left in the tent, but I do have orange juice to drink. Orange juice has been a regular go-to because of the high vitamin c content and sugar content. My feet were cold throughout the night. I could have taken steps to alleviate this, like doubling up the sleeping bags or putting on another pair of socks, but I just accepted the cold feet because I didn’t have the motivation to do either of those things. Regardless of the cold feet I slept pretty well. I’ve learned a lot about spending a lot of time in the cold and sleeping in the cold, so let me explain. I’ve learned that when it is below freezing out I would prefer to be a little cold than hot and sweaty. Your body will warn you when you are at risk of getting frostbite or hypothermia. It starts with numbness, and I’ve felt it multiple times in my hands, once in my nose, and a few times in my feet, usually when my hands end up outside the blankets or my feet venture beyond the blankets while I’m sleeping in the freezing cold. If you’re sleeping, this numbness will wake you up, and then you adjust to put your hands or feet in a warmer position which increases blood flow and stops the process of frostbite. I have never experienced the process of hypothermia, I’m always bundled up and my core temperature is always hot.
8:30 a.m. I spent the morning in the tent scrolling on my phones, and working on some stuff for this project. I also spend a lot of time thinking. I do enjoy being alone in the forest in my tent. I highly recommend this type of reset for any individual who finds that they are getting stressed out by society. What I also enjoy is eating dinners or lunches at the homeless shelter. I have a table that I sit at now with a few younger and elderly individuals who have grown quite fond of. If there are people in society that are lonely and don’t feel connected to anybody, I highly recommend going to homeless meals and sitting down and eating with the wonderful people that you can meet there. Not to say that all the people you might meet at homeless meals are wonderful, but I’m sure you will meet someone that you can connect with and you will no longer be lonely.
10:00 a.m. I’m out of bed and all packed up. I hike out of the woods and I drive over to Steve’s Market and park my car. Nick texted me and said that he was at the homeless day center. I walk into the homeless day center at Lifebridge and I see Nick and his dog Riggy sitting at a table. Nick asked me if I can watch Riggy while he takes a shower at the day shelter. I say, no problem. While I’m watching Riggy, he gets a little restless. I walked to the bathroom with the dog and fill up a bowl with water. I sit back down at a table and Riggy drinks a little bit of the water. Soon Nick returns from his shower and Nick, Riggy, and I take a drive over to the location of Michael’s camp.
10:45 a.m. Nick, Riggy, and I walk around the forest where Mike’s camp is located. It’s a very small area of woods nestled between a neighborhood in a middle school. There’s some hills and granite outcroppings. It had been mentioned by the crew that took over Michael’s camp that he could have possibly jumped off one of the higher granite cliffs in an attempt to kill himself. We do a canvas of the whole area, and there is no sign of Mike. We stop by the encampment, and we talk to the new residence about what could have happened to Mike. I’m pretty transparent about searching the forest and seeing if he had perished somewhere within. The new residents do not seem guilty or perturbed by this in any way. At this point I do believe that Mike had come back to the camp, destroyed the tents and wreaked havoc, and then left the area to go somewhere else to be homeless. I would love to talk to Mike about the situation, without Mike we can only get one side of the story.
11:30 a.m. I drove Nick in his husky dog Rigatoni to the speedway near downtown Salem. Nick explains to me that his biggest desire now is to have a vehicle, so that he can do Uber eats deliveries and be able to provide for himself in Rigatoni. Nick and I have a long conversation about not working, asking for the things you need, and developing relationships with people. I believe this is helpful for him, it is very sad when I see people lose faith in humanity, or themselves.
12:15 p.m. I get a call from my girlfriend that the apartment she has been accepted for is open for viewing. The last time she went to view the apartment they had put the wrong key in the lock box causing her to not be able to get into the right apartment. I decided to drive to Lowell to check out the apartment with her. What I find is that the building is nice and it has a lot of surveillance cameras, but the apartment building is in a terrible neighborhood. Which I’m not really happy about. The thing is, it’s affordable for her. Rental prices in Massachusetts are outrageous and it’s almost impossible to get approved for an apartment. This is one of the main reasons a lot of people are ending up out in the streets living in tents and such or living in shelters. I do not want to go with this apartment, but we don’t have much choice. If we don’t accept this apartment my girlfriend will be homeless along with me. The apartment is small but it’s renovated and it’s nice and it’s functional. Once again the key did not work, but luckily the door was open. My girlfriend reaches out to the realtor, and confirms that she is interested in the apartment, and sends the first payment to secure the apartment.
2:30 p.m. My girlfriend and I leave Lowell. She drives back to her apartment and I drive back to Salem. I plan on just eating dinner at Lifebridge sleeping in the tent. I park at Steve’s market next to the flag posts and Life bridge at downtown Salem. There’s something wrong with my personal phone. I keep a personal phone and then I keep another phone just for this project since I have to do so much recording and documenting and things. I called customer service for the Consumer Cellular provider. After a half an hour trying to get the phone service to work again, the service agent explains to me that the phone is too old and only has 4G capability and is no longer compatible with their network. This is super frustrating, I’m sick of the way that these companies find ways to cheat people so they can make money. It’s just all a hustle. I’m going to get a new phone, and I’m just going to add it to my Metro plan on the project phone.
3:30 p.m. My girlfriend calls me to tell me that The realty people at her current apartment have been harassing her about her leaving date. She had received a vacate date of the 17th of February, but said she would most likely be out by the 1st. They have been calling her and harassing her to leave immediately, and this is very upsetting at her. It seems that the realty people had hoped she would be out early so they can rent the apartment earlier, they’re using scare tactics and harassment tactics to try to get her to leave ASAP. I explain to her that she needs to be out by her vacate date, but it is definitely concerning and she is still struggling with being sick with RSV, so I drive to her place to keep her company and spend the night.
6:00 p.m. While I’m at my girlfriend’s apartment I receive messages from my family about my father. My father lives alone in Arizona, and he is unhealthy. He refuses to come back to Massachusetts or myself and other family could help him. My father had contracted an extreme case of cellulitis on his legs. My aunt and uncle drove up from Oklahoma to check on him, and sent pictures to a group text of the awful infections on his leg. It’s been a long day already, and this just adds insult to injury. My father doesn’t seem to be concerned with the terrible infection, we have tried a multitude of ways to convince him to come stay in Massachusetts but he refuses. Truth of the matter is upon a medical emergency we will have to jump into action and get him back to Mass and figure out a way that we can provide care for him. Everyday that passes by is a day closer to this eventuality.
7:34 p.m. to make matters worse with everything going on although I’d reminded myself a whole bunch of times I’m 4 minutes late to my virtual Prison to Prosperity meeting. Luckily two of the members are on, and we have a great conversation. Prison to Prosperity is a group for men who have experienced incarceration in our working towards or have improved their lives for the better. A good friend of mine and I started this group about 3 years ago, and we’d meet at club 24, an AA club in Malden. We were on hiatus for about a year, and now we’re coming back with a virtual platform.
8:30 p.m. The day is coming to an end. With so much going on in my personal life I am exhausted. I start my new job working with homeless people that are living outside on Monday. I’m still a little sick with RSV as is my girlfriend. This is a time to rest and prepare for new responsibilities and see what the future holds.