Outreach teams load their vans with granola bars and water and head into the dark, armed with nothing more than flashlights, clipboards, and hand sanitizer. They search the streets in the daytime, looking for signs of life such as bedrolls. At night, they return, hoping to find the owners. Sometimes they are asked to leave; other times, they are hailed as angels of mercy.
In life, he was the keeper of history. Presidential photographs, letters, memos, campaign materials — nothing escaped the thin fingers and sharp eyes of the Columbus native who lived simply and died simply but touched time, leaving a signature of his own.
“And being alone is the best way to be/When I’m by myself it’s the best way to be/When I’m all alone it’s the best way to be/When I’m by myself nobody else can say goodbye.”
It’s the dead of night, that secret hour when regrets drape themselves in black and tiptoe through my head, holding silent vigil for the losses I cannot and will not indulge. If I were in Tuscaloosa, I would slip on my field jacket and take a pre-dawn walk, the favored recourse of dog-owning insomniacs since man first collared canine. That’s a city habit though. In the rural South, traipsing past people’s houses at 4 a.m. will land you on the wrong side of a shotgun.
I’m drifting. Already, it’s hard to remember my old life. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism – you can’t miss what you can barely recall. Three weeks ago, my days were bookended by 5:30 a.m. coffee and cleaning off my desk at 1 a.m. before bed. Now I’m sleeping in a house with no heat.
I want someone to hold me, stroke my hair, comfort me. I want to stumble out the door and throw myself into the arms of the first warm body I meet. I want go home. Home. Sick. Homesick. I understand now. Last night, I suddenly woke up and thought I was in my old house. I could see it so clearly …