I Never Missed Toledo Until I Was Homeless (Part 5)
There’s a place called the City Mission in Cleveland that’s on my mind. I first heard about it on what locals call the street card, which is essentially a sheet of paper that list all of the resources for homeless people.
I have no idea what the mission offers other than the card says it’s a 30 day shelter and that it’s located on 55th and Carnegie, which is about a 2 miles away from 2100 Lakeside, the shelter that I stayed at the night before.
It’s not obvious at first that this is where I’m headed when I start my desperate walk this morning, nor that there will be a cot waiting for me to sleep on tonight. But I have to walk and leave the area I’m in.
The night before I stole a guy named Jamaica’s hat, and now I’m afraid that guy and his friends want to kick my ass. This afternoon I went to Cosgrove, the local soup kitchen, for lunch and saw Jamaica and a group of people stare and nod at me. The hint was clear: they’re going to jump me.
Rather than stay and get beat up, or worse, killed, I leave the place immediately and begin my walk towards 55th. I have no idea where I’m headed or what I’m getting into other than the fact that I have to move.
As I walk a woman in my head tells me to go to City Mission, a place that I’m not even sure has emergency beds. I know nothing about the shelter nor have a clue if they’ll take me in. But the woman that speaks to me is one I’ve heard before.
In my head she’s the director of an agency that is working with me. You’ll think I’m nuts but I’ve spoken to her twice before. She’s nice and always eases the mental pain I’m going thru. She’s one of the only voices I trust.
I first heard her in 2014 when I was in a psych ward in Flower Hospital back in Toledo. I had been up for 7 days, getting at most a couple of hours of sleep. One night in the hospital I began to feel the headaches again. That was when she came to me and spoke.
Her voice is filled with authority and kindness, and she talks to me about a job I took at a Jeep factory in town. She says she figured I would choose the factory over the daycare center I was interviewed at. We then shoot the shit and come up with an idea for a novel, an erotica one at that.
She then says she’ll give me the biggest mental release and with that my brain becomes numb to all sensation and feeling. I’m on a cloud in heaven and with a limited vocabulary to describe such an experience can only say I’ve felt in once before in my life, back in 2010. It’s the greatest feeling in the word and is a far more relaxing experience than any drug can provide. Simply put, my pain is put to rest and I fall asleep.
The last time I spoke with the woman she came to me when I was being tortured. After 4 hours of endless pacing across my hallway along with the horrible Frankenstein arm and headache she said she would help me rest. She commands me to put my head down, and despite the headache and restlessness, the pain goes away and I pass out for an hour, only to wake up to go thru another 4 hours of pure hell.
When she comes I feel at peace and assured. I don’t know how else to describe it other than when I hear voices, sometimes they have a distinct personality and vocal modulation. I know her when I hear her and I trust her everytime, despite the fact that I’m convinced her agency is behind the torture and torment I’ve endured for the past 7 years.
Needless to say, when she tells me to go to City Mission I listen.
Inside the shelter is a front desk protected by bulletproof glass. An overweight black man in a blue security shirts sits behind the glass and greets me with nothing but a stern look.
I ask if they have emergency beds and he tells me I can sleep on a couch for the night. I’m welcome to come in now if I like but have until 8 pm to check in. The time currently is 2 pm.
I thank him and tell him I’ll be back in a little bit.
You might think I’m crazy for just leaving and not checking in, but you don’t know the torture that can be sitting in a room staring at a wall waiting to fall asleep.
After 40 visits to mental hospitals and spending close to a year of my life in them, I know the dangers of being locked in a room. And I refuse to sit there this early while it’s warm outside.
I go back out to 55th Street and walk alone and desolate, having no idea where I’m going. I see an entrance to the express with a sign that points to Toledo, and consider hitchhiking back home. I stick my thumb out for a minute and wait but a voice commands me to move.
Maybe I’ll continue walking to nowhere. Maybe I’ll hitch to Pennsylvania. Maybe I’ll die by nightfall.
Instead I walk 2 more miles before another voice prompts me to return to the City Mission.
Back in the shelter the time is now 4 pm. I hand over my driver’s license and sign some paperwork and am let into a dayroom where a bunch of men sit at tables, talking and playing cards.
For now I’m in a shelter and will have a roof over my head for the night, tho I have no idea where I’ll end up next. And that is all I need.