This experience continues to amaze me at how deeply humbling it is. Ra and I caught a late bus back south and ended up getting off around midnight. Due to our financial situation we decided to camp out for the night. Prior to getting off the bus the driver announced that the temperature outside was 57 degrees Fahrenheit. So we thought hey *shrugs* not so bad. We ended up having to walk a good ways to find a park where we could sleep. Although we were still in the downtown area, there seemed to be no places open. By then my hush puppies and fries had worn off and I was starting to get hungry. I know all the health food jukies are probably shunning us with disgust but please try to understand that our finances were low, we are vegetarians, and everything was closed. Luckily on the way we found a CVS that had a bathroom, I really had to tinkle, but as we walked in we were met with disgust. Looked at like two bums with bags trying to steal. I was so irritated, plus their bathroom was closed. There were some nearby bars that appeared to be open but weren’t. As we were walking up there was a guy sitting outside, not really paying attention so Ra walked right on in. The place turned out to be a club but no one was in it. I was hesitant to go in but I just couldn’t hold it any longer so I dropped my bag and quickly used the bathroom. Ra and I left completely unnoticed.
Then we began contemplating on food. Where should we go, how far would it be, how much would it be etc…my aching legs decided we best go back to CVS and get some snacks so we ended up getting some waters and snacks (as you can hear Ra munching on in the video). Luckily the park we wanted to set up at was nearby so we got there quickly. The spot we found was sort of high up on this inclined hill that flattened out towards the bottom. There were lights in the park so we were completely incognito, I was worried about getting out but Ra insisted we’d be fine. About an hour after taking the video we noticed we weren’t as warm and the temperature was dropping rapidly. Between the two of us we only had one blanket. The blanket did what it could but overall we were still cold. We both tossed and turned on laying on the ground for a while before finally accepting the fact that neither of us would be able to go to sleep. Ra was shivering at that point so I gave him one of my long sleeve shirts out of my bag. Luckily my coat was rather heavy, Ra’s jacket was more so like a fleece hoodie.
‘You know, when we were walking I wasn’t as cold…’ Ra began suggesting that we walk to another location where there were benches, we might have more luck going to sleep. I agreed and we set off again. At that point it was so cold, even the slightest breath turned into vapor. We walked as briskly as we could to the next location. The walk was intense as there were several inclined roads to climb. My knees ached something terrible! I am an ex athlete and I think my years of punishing my knees has finally caught up to me. I did the best I could keeping up but it was a struggle no doubt. Once we finally got to the park it didn’t have any lights, so we were peacefully tucked away from everything and there were benches. I plopped down on the cold bench, I swear it was the next best thing to a bed. Ra instructed me to lay on him while he covered me with the blanket, of course i declined. I wasn’t just going to let him freeze while I sleep in my warm cozy cocoon. He wouldn’t take no for an answer so I curled up on him and he laid on my shoulder. After realizing his head was still exposed to the elements, I tossed the blanket over his head. He said I was crazy because now I’d be letting in air and I wouldn’t be as warm. I said well i’d rather us both be somewhat warm than to be completely cold. We laid quietly, trying to find our happy place but it was hard. I think the time by then was approaching 3am. I was completely uncomfortable and I know Ra was too so I told him he should lay on me. He fought it of course but finally surrendered. I covered him with the blanket and propped my feet up on his backpack. I used my backpack for back support so I could sit at an angle against the arm rest. Soon Ra dozed off, I was glad that at least one of us could sleep. I was left to the midnight sounds of leaves falling, owls, fairies, and nature spirits. Shortly after I dozed off. When I woke back up it was only 3:35 a.m. I let out a deep sigh and let Ra continue to rest but he woke up shortly after.
At that point we decided it was too cold, without the aid of a fire so we set off to kill time at a 24 hour diner. We made it to the diner at about 4:15 a.m so we relaxed for a while, people watched, ate, laughed at each other. Even though we had just did it, we still couldn’t believe we had actually slept outside. Ra has slept outside before but this was a completely new experience for me. Before we got to the diner, we passed a few homeless people sleeping in various places. For the first time in my life I can truly say I can empathize with their situation even if it was just for a few hours. That experience has helped me to gain a fonder appreciation for the everyday things I take for granted. I felt like I was more connected to everything and everyone. I never consciously thought I looked down on homeless people but honestly, subconsciously I felt they were part of an entirely different reality. That’s not totally untrue, they do in fact live in a different reality. On the surface our situation may seem extreme or tragic to some, but for the first time in my life I can say I experienced peace. It is a serenity that cannot be grasped by merely reading my words. You have to life it. I wasn’t concerned with traffic, bills, my appearance etc. All my attachments and titles were released, everything was unimportant. My ego had no choice but to surrender to the will of spirit. Ra and myself were simply left with the core essence of who we are, at the end of the day that is all that truly matters.