This is Sherry
I asked Sherry where she lives and she said: "oh, just about anywhere." When I asked her to explain, it was apparent that she is homeless. She did not appear to me to be homeless. Her clothes were neat and clean and except for a small shopping cart, she was not traveling with an overabundance of possessions. Nor had she asked me for money. She has been homeless for about six months. She lost her small apartment when she could no longer afford the rent. I asked where she was going to sleep tonight. She said probably the subway. She said she was not frightened about being in the subway or of being homeless. She feels safe and comfortable in the city and enjoys the freedom and safety of Manhattan that permits her to be out and about without fear.
I am grateful to Sherry who gave me a greater understanding of my own biases and stereotypes about what a homeless person looks like. There is no one way in which people who have no homes look. Sherry emits a sense of pride and strength. It also raises the issue of the inaccessibility of affordable housing in this city, a tragic problem that impacts the entire fabric of the city. It is a crime that Sherry is homeless, and I hope she eventually gets the home she deserves.
I was walking on West End Avenue when I noticed Sherry standing on the corner at 62nd Street. I said hello, and she returned my greeting with a hello and a smile. I told her about my blog and that I would like to ask her some questions about herself and take some photographs of her. She was very interested and seemed pleased that I would want to include her.
Sherry is 72, was born in Manhattan and lived in Manhattan most of her life except for a few years when she lived in California. She never married nor does she have any children. When she lived in California, she worked as a massage therapist. And, she was very clear that there was no sex involved in her work. If anyone gave even the slightest hint that they were interested in sex, she refused to see them. She experienced herself as an honorable woman.
Sherry did not like California very much. She missed the excitement of New York City. She found the people here much more interesting than those she encountered in Los Angeles. She preferred the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. It is alive with people, culture, and has what she called the nitty-gritty of a real city. She found Los Angles to be one big suburb. In Manhattan, it is easy to talk with strangers on the street. She feels that people here are warmer and friendlier than in California.