The Wardrobe of a Homeless Man (Part One)

July 2, 2008, 10:30 am; posted by
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They say people have layers, that each layer gives you a little insight into a person\’s life. Most people hide their layers, though, so you won\’t see who they really are, what they care about, why they\’re here. Most people go their whole lives without anyone seeing all their layers. They die as undiscovered people.

Almost everyone in New York City wears one layer: the executive accountant, senior partner, musician. They scream their success with cell phones and hair dos and million-dollar purses. The lawyers live in Armani, the musicians in black, and the artists under crooked berets. That is the only layer you see. Most people don\’t show underwear or bare skin. They don\’t want you to know about that part of them.

George chose to be different the day he walked away from his childhood. He was 15. Since then, he\’s learned a lot of things — about the world, about the people, about himself — and he\’s learned that the best way to wear the truth is out where everyone can see it. Shock ”˜em. It\’s the only way to go.

He wears his thinnest layer nearest to his heart: a wife-beater that used to be white but somewhere along the way turned yellow, and boxers with little stars and moth holes all over it. They are always there, by him, but in the summer is the only time he shows them off to the world. He lets them know, “This is what I left home with, and I still have it.” Then he asks, “What do you have?” This is the layer he keeps nearest to his heart, with the things most important to him held close.

His second layer is for those warm summer days: an old pine green T-shirt that used to smell like a woman\’s perfume. There\’s a lipstick stain on the ragged collar from the only girl he ever loved. It\’s faded, but it\’s still there. On the shoulder seam, there\’s a long tear from when they parted ways. The cops were pulling them apart and she was holding onto his sleeve and it ripped. Now on summer days when the world seems to have reached the edge of perfection, he sees his sleeve and he remembers there\’s no such thing as perfection. He keeps hatred and love right above his home.

Continued here!


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