This classroom is much like any other—there are tables, benches, a whiteboard, students, and a teacher up front. There is also gravel, and a smell of wet dog with a hint of gun oil. The classroom is a big green tent buffeted by wind and rain on the abandoned remains of what was once a Soviet military base in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine.
In room M366, a mother holds her hand flat under her baby’s back. Her arm is interlaced carefully through a tangle of electrical wires and fluid tubes to where she can feel the warmth of both his shoulder blades in the palm of her hand. For hours like this she gently, ever so gently, rocks him and talks with her lips to his ear about everything and nothing at all.
I had so many misconceptions about homeless people that it is almost embarrassing to write about it now. I mean, I was an idiot. The only salve to this realization is that most of us are idiots. We don’t know anything about what it is like to be without a home. But a couple of months back I determined to find out.