There is one thing I will never be able to get used to while living here. Seeing homeless people on the streets.
I remember the first time I saw a homeless person and really understanding what his situation was. I was visiting New York City with my family and I was around 13 years old. Everytime I’d see someone begging for money I’d point them out to my mom asking her give them some change. Eventually my mom told me that we can’t give some to everyone, there are so many.
We were there in February and it was freezing cold. We were walking near Central Park when an older man walked up to us and asked if we had any spare clothing since he was cold. My mom had just bought these soft, bright neon green gloves. She gave them to the man. He was too cold to put them on, so my mom assisted him. The mental picture of the man walking away with bright neon gloves will never leave my mind. Such a small thing to be happy about and thankful for.
Coming from a country that has very little poverty, and almost no homeless people, I still find it difficult now to look upon all these poor people. I still want to stop by every single one and give them change. But I don’t anymore, my mom was right.. there are so many.
Being in a big city like this is so different. When walking along the street I see so many people. So many different individuals. I’ve always liked imagining where they’re coming from, or where they’re going. What’s their story?
Sometimes I think about how everyone was a baby once. It’s an oddly comforting thought. No matter how people are now, whatever they’ve done or where they’ve ended up, they were a baby once. An innocent child that was not yet programmed. It had no prejudice, it did not judge. It wanted to give every homeless person money, simply because they saw that he/she needed it.
I like to think about how many people there are in the world. Everyone is the center in their world. Just as I’m sitting here writing this, a woman I passed yesterday, who was to my story just an extra, is now dealing with something, or doing something that is important to her storyline.
When you’re in a store in Reykjavík and you run into someone you know it’s not uncommon. We aren’t that many. So whenever I’m at the movies, or at the pool it’s even kind of likely that I’ll see someone I know. We are only around 330.000. There are way more people in Brooklyn alone!
A strange thought that then sometimes comes to mind when I’m at a public place in Reykjavík is “There are so many Icelandic people I don’t know!”.
And now I’m in an enormous city and I know so few people. There are so many storylines. Many of them have their main character, their hero… on the street.
Last night I went to the store that’s about 3 minutes away from our apartment. On the way I was stopped by a man. He looked my age. Around 23 years old. He was asking for food. This really hit me hard. How is it that he is here, at 10 pm begging for food. Where are his people? How did he end up here? What is his story?
As I sit here writing this I’m thinking where did he end up. Is he homeless? Did he eat? When was the last time he ate? Should I have found him after I’d been to the store? How will the hero of this story survive?
I will never get used to seeing homeless people. I’ve lived so long without.