It was on a Friday at 3 pm and Louis was getting discharged from the hospital after 5 months. His doctor Tia become the kind of confident that emailed, text, and called anytime. Day. Night. After I took my sleep meds. Before I took my psych meds in the morning.
“Adriana, where the fuck is Louis going?”
I adored Tia. She was a medical doctor at an Ivy League teaching hospital and cursed as much as I did.
“Bad news Tia. I could only get him into the emergency shelter. The bathroom is ADA accessible, but he will have to share a room with 15 guys.”
“Well, it’s better than nothing, Adriana. The wheelchair accessible van will pick him up soon.”
“No worries. I will meet Louis there.”
It was pouring rain. I am a terrible driver. Especially in the rainy dark.
I met Louis last year at a different homeless shelter. I was meeting with a client assigned to the agency I work for. Louis wheeled over and asked for help.
“Excuse me? I have been on the street. I don’t know what to do. Someone must have called 911 as I sat in the rain in my chair.”
“Sure honey. Just give me a few minutes.”
When I looked for Louis I couldn’t find him.
“Excuse me,” I gingerly asked the shelter staff. They hated me for always demanding human dignity for the clients we served who ended up on the streets or shelters because of, well pick one:
Systemic racism, gentrification (when I moved here in 1997 I was part of that gentrification), marginalization, prisons. period. Underemployment. Underresourced. Just fucking pick one. Then add them all together. That equals hopelessness.
The staff person from this catholic run non-profit looked at me without blinking, “what do you want with him?”
“I am doing his assessment.” I guessed correctly that no assessment had been done. This is the assessment done for someone to even be considered for a housing subsidy.
Louis came back outside.
“You didn’t leave. You didn’t forget about me.”
“Of course, not honey. I am going to do your assessment. I enter the assessment in the city’s system so you can be considered for a housing voucher.”
I have been scolded by many licensed clinicians to stop calling those I serve honey. I do it anyway. I am usually 30 years older than a lot of the people I serve. I think it’s endearing.
We finished the assessment, and Louis looked into my eyes. His eyes were as dark brown as mine.
“Please do not forget about me.”
“I promise never.” I fucking meant it.