Last weekend I was walking along the coast and I saw a homeless woman crying. She was sitting on the grass by herself and there was nothing hysterical about it; simply, tears were rolling down her cheeks. I noticed her precisely because she wasn't hysterical. The homeless in LA, and in particular near Ocean in Santa Monica, are both abundant and often mentally ill, and I've become so desensitized to them that I always ignore their requests for money, and worse, barely see them.
IMPORTANT NEWS BREAK: Ewwww. Either the smoker or the potential bike thief upstairs is having sex. Never again will I live in a first floor apartment.
Anyway, so on Saturday, as I said, I saw this woman crying and I felt immediately haunted by her tears. Her image has stayed with me nearly a week later. And now I remember that her tears were not the hysteria of mental illness -- of a mind ravaged by psychosis expressed as paranoia. Naw, hers were the soft, tender tears of disappointment, of heartbreak, of a deep sadness or perhaps resignation. I saw humanity in her gentle expression. And I suppose I felt my own sorrow that she didn't have the luxury to retreat to a bedroom of her own or the option to be left alone. On a practical level it's obvious that being homeless means you don't have a bed to sleep in or a place to take a shower. It never occurred to me that you don't have your own place to feel sad, either.
NEWS UPDATE: Upstairs neighbor has finished. For now, it seems. I'm pretty sure it was the bike thief because as the smoker (I can tell by her quick gate) came home in the midst of it, the squeakin' stopped. The smoker walked around for about five minutes then left again. The bike thief spared no time, picking up where he left off. Finally it is quiet and since it's been about 30 seconds without noise, I'm guessing he's already asleep.