San Diego is amazing. It is beautiful, of course, but there is so much more to it. For starters, it is ripe with people. There is every kind of person. There is "Slowmo," a man who roller-skates in slow motion down the boardwalk everyday to the sound of classical music blasting from his Walkman. He used to be a neurologist, but he found that life to be empty, so now he is Slowmo.
There is "Reverend" Guy, a friend of mine who got his minister license online so he could officiate a ceremony between two friends. The title "Reverend" just stuck, even though on any given day, you can find him frequenting strip clubs where "[he hangs] out on the back patio with the girls when they get bored with dancing."
There is Sage, the Jesus lover I met last Wednesday at the OB Farmer's Market. Sage literally giggles when he talks about how much Jesus loves him, and he is quick to tell everyone that Jesus loves them too by showing them the messages inscribed on his hands: one saying "Jesus" and on the other, "Loves You."
The people I have become the most intrigued by, however, are the homeless. You can find a homeless person on every street. Some of them play the game well, like the people I spoke of in my last blog entry who hang out in coffee shops, but some of them you will find have given up. They are the ones sleeping in the middle of the sidewalks who have stopped showering, even though there are free outdoor beach showers all over San Diego. Those who are good at being homeless, you would never know are homeless. The travel light, and they don't just "panhandle" (beg). They offer up a trade or a craft. Some wash windows, others sell flowers.
This morning I met Jeff, who calls himself a homeless traveler. At his side was a small pile of flowers made out of palm tree branches. He said he learned how to make them from a crazy homeless guy he met in Joshua Tree. We talked a little about his life while he made flowers and bummed cigarettes from people walking by.
He said he spend the majority of his adult life taking care of his father until he died a few years ago, and shortly after, his mother also died. He wanted to be a botanist then. Now, he is a homeless traveler, making just enough money to get to the next place. During our conversation, he pointed to the backpack sitting at his feet, with a blanket attached at the bottom and a yoga mat rolled up and buckled at its side, telling me how blessed he was that most everything he owns he got for free. He was reluctant to let me take a photo of him, but he obliged.