Happiest on the Street

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Barbara*, 1939-

“As happy as I have been on the street, parts of me get obliterated, and most people just don’t hear it. I thought you wouldn’t, either.”

I’ll tell you, I have never been happier in my life. I sleep outside, and still feel the happiest I have ever felt. I am freer, not free; you know, one of Trungpa’s books was The Myth of Freedom, you are never really free. It is hard being on the street, but harder to be trapped inside with too many rules. I have a small pension, but it’s not enough to get housing, not even a room. But I know how to camp, I can survive in the woods or urban camping, as I call it.

The biggest surprise on the streets is that there are some un-socialized people out there. They aren’t breaking the rules, they simply don’t process them. Their mother left home at 5 a.m. and came back at 11 at night, the kids were on their own, they don’t know any better. But on the street, there are as many different stories as there are human beings. Each one has their own, you would be surprised. I was actually going to cancel this interview. This morning, on the way here, I thought how complex and multi-faceted it is. How difficult it would be to explain it, and the risk of misrepresenting the complexity. I was rehearsing how to turn you down. As happy as I have been on the street, parts of me get obliterated, and most people just don’t hear it. I thought you wouldn’t, either.

Listen to interview snippets:


[* She asked to use a pseudonym, without photos]