“We bought 2 beers and 2 double shooters, just to drink to get into detox because we were cold as hell.”
How did you end up out here?
Mel: I was in a relationship for 15 years, and I was beat up for awhile. He wasn’t like that all the time you know, but he would hog tie me and broke my ribs once. I had a baby with him and he raised my other 2 kids. I started drinking, and he decided he wanted to mess around with another girl 12 years younger. While I was in treatment, he told me to get all my stuff out of the house because he was foolin’ around with this other girl. This happened a year ago.
What about your kids?
Mel: My daughter just turned 18 my son just turned 17. My father had 3 daughters, and he was one of my best friends. My father was so good to me, I named (my son) after him. Then, I have (my other boy) he’s 11. He’s my baby.
How often do you talk to them?
Mel: I talk to them all the time.
How often do you see them?
Mel: Not always. The boys, it’s been awhile.
Michael, how did you end up on the streets?
Michael: I was in Lansing, and me and my best friend had an apartment, and we were partyers. We got kicked out. I was forced on the streets, I didn’t choose this. I lost my job because it was the end of the season. I was canvasing for a window siding company. I was on the streets just off and on, more on the streets than off.
What about your family?
Michael: They’re in Michigan- I couldn’t live with my mom, she lived with her boyfriend, and my dad, for lack of better word is a d-bag, and I was on the streets and just started drinking heavily. I was in a relationship for 10 years, I had a kid with her, and he just turned 8 in March. I haven’t talked to him in over 2 years. I think about him every day…
Do you plan on ever seeing him again?
Michael: No, I have to go to court. She won’t answer any facebook, phone calls, letters. She just turned me off. She hooked up with a good friend…. She married him and had a kid with him.
How long have you been a couple now?
Michael: 11 months
What’s the greatest challenge being a couple on the streets?
Michael: Well, she’s obviously pretty- and dudes hit on her all the time. Then when she leaves, I end up fighting somebody because people talk sh*t and I get in fights.
What does the future look like for the two of you?
Michael: Life. (Laughs) We’re trying to get pregnant.
Mel: We want to get married!
What do you think that will look like?
Michael: Well, it will clear us up- she will stop smoking.
Mel: With my last (child) I stopped smoking, I didn’t drink or anything…
What are your dreams for the future, where do you want to be in 5 years?
Mel: In a home, working, with my kids spending the night with me…
Where do you want to be working?
Mel: I’m a baker, I used to make cupcakes, wedding cakes….but you know what, a job is a job, as long as it’s not an office job, I’ll be fine..
What do you need to get there?
Mel: To get sober again.
What do you need to get sober out here?
Mel: You wake up shaking and you just need that drink. It’s hard. You can’t take a shower out here, you don’t have great clothes, if you can’t look presentable to go to an interview, why would they hire you?
Micahel: There’s a treatment over in detox, like a rehab type place. I went to detox because I wanted to. We bought 2 beers and 2 double shooters, just to drink just to get into detox because we were cold as hell. I decided to go to treatment while I was in detox, that’s where I met this fine lady right here.
Why do you have to drink to go to detox? Why not go to a shelter?
Michael: Well, the shelters are like a cesspool.
What do you need to get off the streets and to get into that house?
Michael, Mel: To stop drinking.
Is it just a cycle?
Mel: Yeah, it’s like I wake up in the morning and have the shakes, and I just need that drink, then when you get that first drink, you’re not going to stop…
Michael: It’s the only thing to do when you’re a hobo. We don’t’ do drugs…. It’s just the drink.
What does the alcohol do- is there more to it than just taking the shakes away?
Michael: It’s just looking to the bottom of the bottle, just trying to find peace in a dumba** way. We just drink a couple of beers a day. Then you hit that cycle. And you just can’t stop. Shoot today, we’ll probably go fly a sign to make more booze money. It sucks, But …. It’s hard, man. We get what we need. We try to get a wake-up- to get a beer or two to get the shakes down from when we wake up. We’re trying to just maintain.
What helps keep you sober?
Michael: Work. Being productive. When you’re out on the streets, your inhibitions just go to the wind.
Why don’t you go to detox or another treatment program?
Mel: Not being with each other.
Michael: The programs- well, (there is) one we would go back to. We’ve talked about it. They make you save 60% of your money. You have a month to find a job. But, the people you have to deal with- it is horrible.
“We don’t ask for money, we just say, ‘Good morning’ all day long. As long as they acknowledge me, you know what I mean? Don’t walk by me and be a snob.”
What’s your best day?
Michael: High fives! Having people be true…. Don’t have to be true to me, just true.
Mel: Being acknowledged. I hate when people, you know, I say, “Good morning,” and not asking for nothing, just to say good morning back to me. Like the other day, I wave at this guy, and he says, “Don’t wave at me, you don’t know me.” And he comes back and kicks my sign.
Michael: He’s like, “You’re a homeless drunk, I talk to people with money,” and kicked the sign.
What did you do, how did you respond?
Mel: Nothing, I mean, we just let it go…
Out here, why don’t you give up? What keeps you going?
Michael: Friendship, faith and confidence…That’s what keeps me going…
What do you have faith in?
Mel: I have faith in the Lord.
Michael: Truthfulness, honesty, virtue- morals, ethics….
What’s your greatest regret?
Mel: Being a drunk…
What’s the greatest highlight?
Mel: My children
What did you want to be as a kid?
Mel: a doctor
Michael: a surgeon
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Mel: Anywhere with him.
Michael: Tahiti, no… Either that or France. Ireland- I’m pickin Ireland!
If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Michael: I would give it to St Judes, for all they do for kids with cancer.
If you could give the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
Michael: Peace, love and happiness…
Mel: Be kind. We are all out here for a reason. Don’t steal from me. I’m not going to steal from you. If we don’t look after each other, who is?