you and me

I was at the counter waiting to pay. “What do you do?” he asked. I rambled on about teaching, about psychology, and about homelessness. He looked at me. “It must be tough working with those people. I just can’t figure why anyone wants to live that way.”

It’s a blur in my mind now, but I’m sure I said something about myths — myths of safety, of security, of health, that things will always be the same, of choosing the freedom of the streets to the prison of domestic traps, of the upstanding serial killer;

about the otherwise picture-perfect world of the Canadian social contract, fears and anxiety, what’s quietly raging unseen and unheard, just below the surface, what remains when the movie stops, when it all ends;

and about us and them, the distance between the two, that I’m only one slip away, one unfortunate and unexpected event away — from bottom, and that “I cry too, I’m lonely too, I need too, and . . . I need you just as desperately as you need me.”