6:00 a.m. I went full urban last night. I camped directly behind Planet fitness against the building. It was flat and well hidden. I had made plans to camp with my new friend Wesley tonight, so once all my stuff was packed up, I rode my bike over to my truck and headed to West Springfield right over the bridge. There’s plenty of parking in Springfield which is great. But it’s dark at night due to low lit street lamps.
7:20 a.m. I ride my bike over to the Friends of the Homeless breakfast. The door still haven’t opened It’s before 8:00. A couple of young men are talking. They’re talking about relationships, “girls complain if it’s too big or if it’s too small,” they talk about the danger of smoking street weed, “they be putting shit in the weed makes you schizophrenic.”
8:15 a.m. I sit across from a couple who are clearly in love, the woman is overweight and the man seems to have some form of mental illness, because when he talks he struggles to form sentences. One thing I’ve noticed from spending time with homeless people and eating with them at meals is that there is great love and compassion between them in many circumstances.
8:45 a.m. From breakfast I bike right to the library, I record weeks five and six policy points, and do a quick Worcester breakdown in front of Dr Seuss sculptures. I charge all my devices, work on the blog, and other media stuff.
12:00 p.m. After the library I head over to the lunch on Worthington Street at the Friends of the Homeless. After lunch I just returned to the library and was feeling a little froggy so I decided to check out the museums. There’s about six museums that surround the library. Admission to all museums is 25 bucks. I walk through the museums and I take pictures of all the cool s***. I start to get tired at the library. I’m getting ready to fall asleep like I often do in the afternoon from sleep deprivation. I head out to find a sandwich and an energy drink. At first I’m going to stop at a sandwich shop, and I noticed that there’s a big Y right next door. This is the first grocery store I’ve ever been in that is completely automated for the most part. It’s called a Big Y Express, I grab a chicken salad and a croissant, and a couple energy drinks. The back entrance of the store opens up into a Mall area where I sit down and eat, there’s a big Christmas tree right in front of me. I hang out for a while until it’s time to go to dinner at the Friends of the Homeless. I head up there and I walk right up to the line to wait to get my tray. It’s a quick dinner.
6:00 p.m. I’ve been texting with my new friend Wesley who I’m going to Camp with. My new friend wants me to grab some Natty Ice tall boys, so I do, I also grabbed him weed from a little hole in the wall pot dispensary in downtown Springfield. The weed is in jars on the counter, and the place is like a pot shop, and a smoking lounge. It definitely has a chill comfy feeling to it. I get the beers for my new friend, they are cheap and it’s a 5 dollar minimum for the card. He is in luck I buy him a third tall boy and a Sam Adams non-alcoholic beer for myself. I’m really not too keen on buying beer and marijuana for my new homeless friends, but this man has extended his camp to me. I don’t want to offend him and I want to be able to give him something that he wants, even if it’s not the best thing for him. I understand that in his world it is small pleasures like these that help him get through the day. I also feel that by explaining to him that I do not drink, or use drugs, that I might be able to encourage him to make better choices.
7:00 p.m. While I’m riding my bike towards Wesley’s campsite a man yells Marshall from a tent along the train tracks. I’m thinking, ‘who the hell is that?’ I yell back Who Dat? He says Wesley! I say I thought your camp was on the river. He says I just came over here to take a piss. We start walking towards the camp site. He tells me to ride my bike over. I stop before the wooded entrance and lock my bike up, and walk the rest of the way. This campsite has a table, metal fire barrel, a fireplace and two active tents, and is right on the river.
8:15 p.m. Wesley cooks some cube steaks in cream of mushroom soup, and we chill by the fire. Wesley said that both his parents died and his house burned down. He said he couldn’t afford his apartment so he became homeless. Wesley told me that someone sucker punched him in the street, a case of mistaken identity, and his jaw was severely broken. Getting his jaw broken affected his work, he said. I asked Wesley why you didn’t stay in the shelters? He said people rob you in the shelter, kids. Wesley told me one night he was sleeping in the shelter and a woman had her children trying to steal his belongings. Wesley talked about trying to commit suicide 7 times. Last time was when his camp flooded. Wesley talked a lot that night. He described all the drugs in the street. He talked about all the overdose deaths. Since I had already seen Springfield I knew what he said was the truth. Wesley said people live free in shelters and sell drugs. Wesley talked extensively about American history, I found out later that he loves to watch PBS documentaries. While we were talking Wesley’s friend Pat called and we’re supposed to doing interview tomorrow. Pat was another homeless person that stayed with Wesley for a while, he struggles with fentanyl addiction among other substance abuse. Wesley tells me about a time when he and seven other people smoked crack which turned out to be fentanyl and they all overdosed at the same time, luckily somebody got help and paramedics came and narcanned everybody back to life.
10:00 p.m. Wesley lets me sleep in the extra tent. I set my sleeping pad up along with my sleeping bag. Talking to Wesley was a lot. I can sense the pain, frustration, and anger and Wesley. I sense the loneliness and desperation that comes with being homeless and not having a good network to lean on. Not having people that care for you and watch out for you to make sure that you’re all right from day to day. I know that feeling but I’ve never been as lost as Wesley. It makes me think, and I also still don’t know Wesley well. I wonder if he might have killed other people in the camp and tonight is my last night on earth.