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There’s nothing like going home for a homecooked meal with the loved ones, especially for the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of a place to call home. Being homeless is a negative experience. People may ask about the others that travel all the time, but not having a physical place to call home doesn’t necessarily mean that one is homeless. No matter where or what you call home, having a home, whether physical or abstract, is a positive thing while being homeless is the opposite.
Home can be a daunting topic to think about. For some, it is where they live or where they used to live. The way people decide where their home is at is what can be interesting to know. In the McAndrew’s article, it states that home “connotates more than just a house” (2). Where people consider home is where they have power. According to the How To Understand Power video, Eric Liu states that power is “the ability to make others do what you would have them do.” This is evident in parents raising their children. They usually raise them in their home, and they can make their kids do what they tell them. The parents have power and control in their home.
Where they find their identity can also be a factor in where people call home. For instance, people sometimes find their identity by their culture or nationality. An American’s home is most likely going to be in America. It is where they feel safe and have some power because of democracy (Liu). Culture can have a big effect on home. If some people identify with southern culture, then their home is likely in the south. This can be confined to regions and sometimes even towns that have their own unique culture.
One of the biggest factors of where people call home and how they identify themselves is human, and sometimes other, connections. Family is the most common. Many people’s home is where their family is at. This provides comfort and familiarity. They know that when they are home, they will be accepted. In the McAndrew’s article, he quotes Robert Frost in a poem, “Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Friends are also important connections that makes one feel welcomed at home. They can provide comfort and a happy place away from all the stress of life. People like that can make one feel like they belong there, a feeling that is essential in identifying their home. Connections with animals can be very strong. People often have pets at home and sometimes, that’s the only connection they have.
Security is important in establishing one’s home. Having a place to come back to where they don’t have to worry can have a tremendous effect on their life. Home should make one feel safe and should have the supplies one needs. For example, a roof over one’s head and air conditioning to get away from the weather makes home more comfortable and secure. One also needs to be safe from harmful people that want to bring them down. This is in line with connections. The people in one’s home should make them feel safe and should support them.
Home doesn’t have to be one specific place. I identify home as two different places. Henderson is my first home. It is where I grew up and where I’ve lived for most of my life. My family lives there, which gives me comfort. I know that they will always take me in and support me in whatever I do. My best friend of 10 years also lives there. He provides a relaxing place for me to escape from schoolwork and anything else that causes my worry or stress. We have fun times together and have many of the same hobbies, such as skateboarding and videogames. I am also very familiar with Henderson. I know where just about everything is in this small town.
Nacogdoches is the second place that I call home. I have many friends that I have made over the past three years that make me feel welcome. We have created a bond that is like no other. I always have someone here that I can go to if I need help or just want to hang out. I even have a dog named Cloud that I have a fond connection with. I can come home and cuddle or play with my dog to feel better. He also is a great wingman. I am also familiar with Nac, although not as familiar as I am with Henderson. I know where the main places and roads are and I can get to most places in town. I am very familiar with Stephen F. Austin State University, which is where I attend school and spend most of my time. My house is so close it’s practically on campus. I also have two roommates who I met my freshman year. They are just two examples of the many friendships that I have made.
Both of my homes have the essential aspects that make a place home. I have a physical house in both towns that provide security and a place to return. I identify myself mostly by my hobbies, which I do in both places. I skateboard in Henderson, play basketball in Nacogdoches, and play trumpet and video games in both. I also have strong connections at the two homes. They really make me feel like I belong there. That is why it’s so hard to choose one. To solve that, I claim the two of them collectively.
Not having a physical house doesn’t mean that someone is homeless. For example, a person that likes traveling often or a trucker who is constantly on the road may consider the road their home. They don’t have a physical place that they call home, but they still have one; therefore, they are not homeless. In the book Into the Wild, Alex, a twenty-four-year-old, loves nature and everything about it. He loves it so much that he wants to go on an expedition in Alaska. While trying to convince his eighty-one-year-old friend to come with him, he tells of his passion for the wild. He says that “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun” (Krakauer 57). Adventurous people such as him would call the wild their home. They love the freedom that comes with it. They identify with it. They may not have connection with real people, but the connections with nature make up for it.
True homelessness lacks the qualities and characteristics that make something or somewhere home. Similar to the travelers and explorers, there is no physical place that a homeless person can go back to. However, the travelers and explorers don’t have one because of choice. Homeless people usually don’t have the choice to have a physical house, most likely because they can’t afford one. They may call a place under a bridge or something similar home, but it doesn’t have the characteristics of one. It’s just where they live. It doesn’t provide them with security. It may shelter them from the rain, but the temperature is still a factor. If it feels like one can fry eggs on the sidewalk outside or if you might be able to see the abominable snowman walk down the street, then it won’t be comfortable under the bridge. They likely won’t have good heavy layer coats for the winter either.
Along with the lack of security and comfort, homeless people under a bridge don’t have connections or power, two of the most important qualities of a home. Most homeless people don’t have many friends or family. They probably live on their own. There might be people under the same bridge, but they likely don’t have a connection with them, especially since they are in the same spot trying to get money from the same people. The others are more of a competitor than a friend. A homeless person occasionally has a pet, but it is mainly used to get more people to give them money. They may have a connection to that animal, but it is likely the only connection that person has.
Power gained from one’s home is important. Homeless people don’t have that power. Going back to the video on power by Eric Liu, a couple of the sources of power are physical force and wealth. Since that person can’t afford a house, then he won’t have enough wealth to have any power. He also won’t be able to afford healthcare. This means that he is probably weak, so physical force would not be an option. They also don’t have the ability to make others do what you want them to do, which is the definition of power (Liu).
People that live in a homeless shelter might seem like they have a home, but like the people under the bridge, it lacks the important qualities of a home. It may protect a person from the weather, but that is about all. Security is a big problem in these shelters. Theft and abuse are common. In the article “Homeless in Campus,” Eleanor Bader expresses a story of a twenty-year-old girl and her child living in a temporary shelter where “[they] slept on benches…sat on [her] bag and held onto the stroller day and night” (1). People like her experience these things every day. They don’t have their freedom. The workers there, who are usually rude and have no empathy, make them do chores and set a curfew. It is not a good environment to be in
Being homeless severely affects one’s success rate. It’s hard to be successful when people don’t have anyone to help or anything to get them going. Some of these people are students. Being homeless while a student is an extremely difficult task. There are many factors that limit one’s abilities to succeed. For example, they might not have a place to quietly do their homework, or they may not have the funds to get the supplies they need. They also might not have the time to do all the things that need to be done, such as travel, homework, and sleep. Aesha from the Homeless on Campus article explains that she spent a good chunk of her time each day on the train. Along with living far away from her school. She had to travel to drop her baby off before school. This required her to get up early in the morning to get to school on time. She had to do the same route on the way back. This left little time for her to do her homework and sleep (Bader 1). If she doesn’t get enough sleep, then she likely won’t be able to concentrate as easily at school or while doing work. All of these factors play into why she is having a significantly harder time succeeding in school.
Just because one has a home, however, doesn’t mean that everything is fine and dandy. Some people’s home is not the best situation, but it still has the important qualities that make it a home. In The Walking Dead, the characters’ home is an abandoned prison. It provides security from the weather along with security from the zombies trying to eat their guts out. They also have connections with the people that live there. Some of them are even couples. However, they don’t have much freedom. Considering there are numerous zombies outside the prison, they can’t walk out of there anytime they want. They all have a home there, but they are required to stay there most of the time. This is not how people like to live, but it is the best situation in their case.
There was one woman on this episode that was homeless. All she had to stay in was a tent that didn’t provide much security. She ended up going crazy and trying to kill Daryl even though he was trying to help her. She kept talking about her husband, but he was already dead. She lacked any type of connection to anything living. This drove her to insanity (The Walking Dead).
Having a home is a wonderful thing. Even when it is not the most ideal situation that one would like to be in, it is still better than being homeless. The security, comfortability, and strong connections that come from having a home is an enriching experience that people often take for granted. People aren’t as aware of the crippling effects of homelessness.
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