I’ve long been fascinated by and attracted to itinerant groups of people. I briefly did that, myself, but I’m just not cut out for that lifestyle, but the older I get, the more I seem to attract such people, and even ethnic Romani who live a non-nomadic life.
These are my people, in a way. I’m a similar spirit, but on a different path, one that makes a safe haven for solo or coupled itinerants and vagabonds, gives them a place to call “home” for however long they need it, and then when they move on, the next people have the space.
I’ve actually been doing this my entire adult life. Homeless queer youth and runaways often crashed at my old room when I lived at an unlicensed boarding house the first couple years i was on my own, and since learning of it, I’ve always had a “Couch Available” profile on couchsurfing.com — seldom has this offer been taken up by people on that site, but oh well, it’s there for people who need it.
When I moved back to the area and a couple months later, started going back to the local excuse for a “goth night” (trust me, I’ve been a semi-professional Goth off-and-on for over twenty years, now; there are Goth Nights, and there are “goth nights”), one of the first people to approach me, whom i previously did not know, was a young, ostensibly genderqueer person (I’m not sure the terminology they use to define themself, but I gathered a non-binary identity from the conversation) whose first words to me was “Are you gypsy?”1
“I am, but you’re still one of my people. I can tell.”2
Sure, it’s also possible that by “[their] people”, they could’ve meant off the gender binary (or technically in the middle of a sliding scale gender spectrum), but looking at the context of the rest of the convo, this possibility seems less likely.
I recently did a favour for a friend and let a friend of hers crash overnight. He said he was taking a few years off to backpack around the continent and see what he can, maybe write a book or something when he’s done.
The following week, I learned for the first time, actually, that a friend of mine who I’d known a few weeks and learned that she was a person who bought some of my buttons when she lived in another state (she’d been wearing one on her purse, and I recognised it) was technically homeless/couch-surfing. I learned this when she and I met up for the Midnight Movie showing of Beetlejuice in downtown Ann arbor. She’d been trying to get herself established as a Michigan resident, but the friend-of-a-friend who she’d been staying with was in a really negative, depressive state, which wasn’t good for her own psyche, and as she has a ferret she travels with, she didn’t need the animal exposed to it any more, so after mulling on it over the weekend, I offered to her after the club that she could stay at my place, if she needed to — the roommates whose opinions I care about are usually pretty chill, as long as whatever guests of mine can clean up after themselves and aren;t too loud. The roommate who can go fuck herself owes me $65, at this point, and owes one of the other two roommates in the area of $250 for covering her part of the electric bill all winter, and I’m not letting her have an opinion on this until she pays back Zach, and then myself. Or she can just wait until August, when none of us will be her problem, anymore.
So my friend has her food assistance card, and needs some help applying for Social Security Disability, and says she may be around a few more weeks, or maybe a year or two, but as long as she’s got a sense of security tied to this are, because she really loves the spirit here (I tell you, this is a sacred city of Apollon, and I sense major Moisai presence, as well), she’s good. So since I know a lot of the nonsense involved in this, I’ve offered to help her out in the ways that I can, and point her in the best directions i can, when we come to a spot I’m completely unfamiliar with.
I’ve often thought about, at some point, either renting a sufficiently large apartment or a house, and running it on a somewhat “drag house” model for wayward goth and punk kids. I use the term “kids” loosely, as I have not the spoons to deal with the legal work of setting up a shelter for runaway minors, but the inherently non-typical lifestyle of many of such young adults in this state kind of brings out an inherently nurturing side of me, where I’m perfectly happy to help people out, give them what they need, allow them to pay me back at their leisure in whatever manner we can agree is fair (doesn’t have to be money), and then let them move on.
It’s not an inherently spiritual calling, but it does tie in quite nicely with my spirituality based on happiness and pleasure, because for a lot of people, even the vagabonds, even the vaguest sense of security is crucial to happiness and pleasure. If you can follow a line back to the tree you’ve found best to tether yourself to, you’ll always find the shade you need to cool off. And if you’re a fan of “the law of return”, it’s definitely a way to keep in those good graces.
1: I prefer to avoid that word, myself, because I’m not of Romani or Irish traveller descent, but it’s what they said, and I don’t want to use awkward bracketing
2: I’m assuming that this meant they’re of some percentage Romani, Traveller, or some other intinerant ethnicity, but they also could have intended an affectionate, even if still very problematic euphemism for “vagabond”.