Without a Home Story - Murphy

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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 Murphy - a.k.a Smurf - in Mar 2023 talking to Darrick on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. Murphy is such a vibrant character you can't miss him. Immediately the three of us started shooting the s**t... joking around and Darrick suggested I should interview Murphy. I was stoked, so I suggested we grab lunch together and I was about to be in for one heck of a fun interview. As many struggles as there are in Murphy's story, his sense of vibrant hope and sense of humor and confidence is infectious. Here is Murphy's story.

Murphy a.k.a. Smurf - "keep your nose clean"

Murphy's Story

Thu, Mar 30, 2023:

Born: 1974 (49 years old) in Lompoc California.

About: Murphy, as a human, is just pure joy, laughter and fun. His laugh is infectious and he's one of the biggest characters you will ever meet. Being homeless doesn't have to cramp your style or your smile. His outfit is incredible, his shoes are spectacular, badges on all his clothes and a gold hat covering his awesome dreads. He has some badass tattoos also and incredibly colorful custom shoes. In a strange way, I knew someone this vibrant would have a colorful backstory with huge adversity. And of course I was right.

Murphy was born in a small military backwater called Lompoc. A military brat, Murphy's step dad was in the air force, and they moved around. Murphy was eight when his step father committed suicide. They were suppose to move to Germany, but instead remained in small military town. Murphy's biological dad was also in the military, but he only met his dad once at age 27 and never again.

Being in a small military town there is almost nothing to do, so in Murphy's words you either get into sports and school or you get into the streets. You pick "square or streets" and the streets was picked for him. At a very young age, Murphy was in the wrong place at the wrong time during a robbery and put in jail for the first time. He said this is when his strong distrust of the US government began. How could it not. At 16 years old her was trialed as an adult for 707 - assault with a firearm. Luckily no-one was injured but he was sentenced 6 years and served 4. It was 1995 when he got out. Being institutionalized in prisons at such an early age really affects you. He said you quickly notice the way police target certain communities, it's wasn't even about racism, he says it's most classist.

Murphy has two sisters, one 4 years older and one 9 years younger. They are no longer very close sadly, but they have a single mother home in common, and drug addiction was common where they grew up. Murphy says he's had several "restarts of life", but it was 3.5 years ago he met his primary partner, Timbre, at an open microphone night in Portland. After being friends for a year they fell in love and darted to drive around together. They largely stay in Portland, but often visit Haight, and also adore Ocean Beach in San Diego, stopping at Lompoc along the way to see family. Murphy loves of Haigh that it's such a tight knit community. He can have moments where he might sleep on the sidewalk after a great night talking with new friends and making new connections, but usually he sleeps in his bus cuddled up with Timbre.

What is the hardest lesson you learned on the streets: You can't hold certain expectations... you learn to appreciate space you do get, you learn to balance. He also loves the concept "have less, share more". The homeless community on Haight is especially good at sharing, when someone is in need the others rally and there is so much sharing. Over time he also realizes the he doesn't believe in stealing from big corp or being negative towards anyone, because he just doesn't want that negative energy coming around him and his children.

Something you are proud of: His quality of life, becoming a more transparent person. He's also proud of his his expensive shoe, but when you look closely you realize they are custom because Murphy has lost all his toes due to diabetes and health issues. He warns everyone he knows on the streets that if their toes ever change color you have to get it checked ASAP.

What tips might you offer someone newly homeless: "Do the work on your mindset, and then you will be able to survive the streets". "Don't believe everything people tell you". "Keep your nose clean!". Murphy joked that if 100 people he knew only stopped substances, especially alcohol, for a few month, they might be able to save enough for a small rural property to live together. That would be his hope for people. Sadly it's really hard for most people to see a path to "get up" out of homelessness. Murphy is an example of making it work. Being homeless and happy, with just enough coin to travel the country making friends.

What are your aspirations: Murphy's biggest dream is to create a successful sustainable traveling circus with other people in a similar place. 8 months travel, then 4 months rest, and building new equipment. He wants to always stay tapped in and aware of energy, to always be present with people and the community. Murphy also always aspires to become a better person and better parent.