Camping in Paradise

I was at a library the other day doing henna on everyone who sat in front of me, and this mother shyly sat down after all the kids had gotten their designs.

“I’d like a rose, please, with a heart as a root”.   She started talking as I started drawing and I learned that she worked as a courtesy clerk for a local grocery store, but was unable to find a place to live for herself and her her teen-aged children.  They were camping.

downtown san diego

Paradise on the west coast

She made it sound like a grand adventure — the kids sleep in the tent and she sleeps in the car (although one son was making noises about wanting to sleep in the car himself.) They spend days at libraries and eat groceries from her store.  She was hopeful that she would be able to find an apartment soon (and had even interviewed at one), but in the meantime, they were camping in paradise.

I looked at her tall, mostly-grown children and tried to imagine camping as a lifestyle, not a summer vacation.  They all looked clean and well-adjusted.  They were polite and smart.

She did not rail against whatever injustice took away her previous home.  She did not whine about not being able to make ends meet.  She talked about her work, her smart children and camping.

Then, my program was over and I had to run across the county to another gig.

I wish I had learned her name.  I wish I were better at drawing roses.  I hope that libraries never stop having programs. I hope she gets the apartment with the three bedrooms and full bath and that soon, she and her family will be able to camp just because it’s fun.

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