Without a Home Story - Alex

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NOTE: This page is a daughter page of: Without a home stories

IMPORTANT REDIRECT: These articles now all live on www.withoutahome.net - please visit there instead !
.... and buy our "Homeless on Haight book" !

I met Alex in March 2023, sitting outside of Amal's Deli (currently under renovation) on Haight street, with a sign asking for work or money. I introduced myself, and we had a quick chat, but it wouldn't be until a week or two later that we both had time for lunch. Alex is a good looking 23 year old, guy with a great smile and attitude to life. He'll crack jokes, and he manages to stay pretty clean. Only his clothes indicate that he is homeless... plus of course his sign that said he was looking for honest work and/or a meal! He lives in a van with his boyfriend, and is optimistic that he can find work soon.

When we finally got a chance to each lunch it was pretty fun! We cracked lots of jokes about New York and talking about computer hacking and all kinds of random topics before we even got to the interview questions. We also had some pretty good burgers - not as good as New York burgers of course. :)


Alex's Story

Thu, April 8, 2023:

Born: Sep 2000 (23 years old)... birth town unknown.

About: Alex grew up in several suburbs of Illinois where there wasn't much to do. Although he's unsure about the town he was born in, he remembers his childhood not being too bad initially. However, being an unplanned only child, his parents' deteriorating relationship made things increasingly difficult for him. With constant fighting and yelling, he struggled to do well in school. His mom worked in an elderly nursing home while his dad was a plumber. He even tried plumbing for a while with his dad, but the company started failing, and his dad lost his leg to an infection. Additionally, Alex realized that plumbing had some crazy laws that made it easy to be sued, so he decided that it wasn't for him to drone away as a plumber.

By age 20, Alex was living in Wisconsin and met a guy called Andrew online and they started dating. Alex describes Andrew in three words as easy-going, smart and goofy. They fell in love, and kept it pretty hidden at first. Alex said he realize he was in life when just after he saved Andrew's life. Andrew had some friends come over and they all did heroin, Alex had no idea that was happening, but was able to save Andrew from overdoes and Andrew hasn't touched heroin since.

At home Alex had to watch as his mother become a drunk. Her drinking got worse and worse, and Alex eventually realized it was not on him to watch her. He didn't want that poor life for himself. Andrew has an aunt in Haight-Ashbury and they also heard weed was cheaper in California, so they suddenly decided to try escape.

When Alex and Andrew arrived in San Francisco, one and a half years ago, they had nothing. Worse, Alex lost his ID, which was a huge hassle trying to find work. During the time he didn't have a ID Alex said he was offered a couple of interesting jobs, but unable to take them. Eventually he got a van and now he has an ID he's hunting for work again. Alex said coming out of the closet wasn't too hard. He told his dad and his dad basically replied "dude, I don't care, I just wanna see you". Alex's dad decided to follow Alex's footsteps and try his fortune in San Francisco also. Alex's dad then told Alex's mum that he is gay, but she may have been too inebriated to really react, but seemed pretty cool about it.

Alex says he still feels really worried for his mum, but he knows there is not much he can do. Both sides of her family were drinkers, and he's not sure she has any chance of getting sober. Alex does really admire his dad though. He says life couldn't have been easy with a kid, a broken relationship and in an unsafe area of town, and it seems funny that his dad has follow his footsteps and decided to live out of a car.

What is the hardest lesson you learned on the streets: "Learning to take people's word less". He said you have to understand that or you will be very let down on the street. Alex also noted that "if you get a 'wrong' feeling in your gut, you should trust it". He says that advice can save you.

Something you are proud of: "Getting a van, since it's not easy to do something like that when you start with nothing" and now "starting to get more job interviews ad call backs". After waiting six months to get an ID, he's hopefully his moment will come.

What tips might you offer someone newly homeless: To make sure you never drink and get "wet brain", which is a very sad condition where the mind pretty much has gone. His other advice really surprised me. He said "buy silver". He says they keep their value and are just a useful asset to have and trade at a silver shop if you ever need to.

What are your aspirations: Alex says it's easy to get stressed about his life, but if he can find a paying job that is somewhat fulfilling, then things will fall into place. He also said he want to do good for himself and others around him. Alex's aspirations are "simplicity and security". He wants to get to a point where he doesn't have to worry about his next meal.

Alex and I getting burgers