(Editor’s Note: This post was first published on 21 December 2013.)
A light rain has been falling all day. It’s the first day of winter. No snow because it’s 50-something degrees outside. Just a cold rain. An overcast day of cold rain.
I just came back from Armand’s in Little Italy. It’s late afternoon. I took a bus to Armand’s but I walked back in the rain. There was nothing going on at Armand’s. I couldn’t even sit up front next to the big window to watch Liberty Avenue because the high stools at that end of the bar were occupied. But I could still see the rain.
It didn’t feel much like Christmas.
Then I got to thinking about Mary. She use to be a regular at Armand’s. I published a character sketch of her in this magazine. Her real name is not Mary. But her hard luck story is real.
She’s a senior citizen like me. She lost her job. Her boyfriend had a stroke and his family now takes care of him. She ended up in the hospital because of a heart condition and while she was in the hospital her land lord evicted her from her apartment because she was behind in her rent. The boyfriend lived in her apartment and he was paying the bills.
The Old Soldier has been homeless before, many years ago; but I was only homeless for a short time and it was during a hot summer.
Now I have a small warm apartment, plenty of food, money to spend on beer, social security, two pensions and my health.
I know how lucky I am.
I got a six-pack of beer and walked home in the rain.
This is the Old Soldier reporting from near the University of Pittsburgh.