June 25-Last weekend on a whim I decided to go on a photo trip in Boston. I had no prior engagements and no one was around to accompany me, so I figured I would stop at Harvard Sq and walk to Park, snapping pics along the way. I didn’t expect to find a story right after exiting the T Station. Being the slightly awkward person that I am, I stopped in front of the three of them, maybe ten feet back and stood there. First looking left, then looking right, then looking back, I debated whether or not I wanted to go up to them and ask permission to take their picture. It’s not often one sees someone reading tarot cards and wearing horns. Eventually, I pushed myself, urging myself to pursue all sorts of journalismish actions. This is what I want to do for a living, I told myself. Do it. Do it. Do it. Slowly, I approached them. First, I just asked if I could take their pictures. On cue, the girl in the blue (who I later found out was named Dee and was a self proclaimed “homeless, transexual prostitute” asked for a dollar in return. A dollar for some pictures? Why not.
Adjusting my lens, I stuck my head out from behind the camera. Starting with the basic questions, I heard enough to know that these were not people I could leave after a few minutes. Setting my bag down on the cigarette laden sidewalk, I sat down in front of them, took out my notebook and scrambled to find a page before I forgot some of what had been said.
For the next hour I frantically took notes. Running out of space in my book, I wrote all my notes completely out of order. The appropriately named BottleCaps told me that sometimes that’s the best way. I’m not stuck with an order and I can arrange the story however I want. The story will come later, I just wanted to give context for the images.
Homeless in Harvard Sq.
“I believe in a lot of different versions of god.”-Dee “This is my family-Always has been. I always knew if I needed a shoulder to cry on, I could find that here. If I needed a sandwich, I could find it here.” -BottleCaps“”Ella hangs out with us. People hang out with us and watch our stuff…very helpful, a lot of hands.”-Dee“We’re here twice a week…been working with the homeless for twenty years.” -Eric from StandUp For Kids Boston “The liberalism of the northeast is revealed because Cambridge’s homeless kids are well taken care of. People choose to come here because they are well taken care of.”-Dee“My dad used to drink a lot when I was a kid. He is the coolest drug addict in the world. It wasn’t a big deal if he got high or not. If it were between having his fix or buying his kid shoes, he bought his kid shoes. My mom is a crack head. I got into drugs with her.”-BottleCaps“Christmas still exists when you’re homeless. Almost all of us have someone who can afford stuff. My dad pays my phone bill so he can call me everyday to make sure I’m not dead.”-BottleCaps “My dream is to make enough money by using society standards to buy a plot of land and teach as many people to use a fishing pole to fish.”-Richard “He never remembered me.”-Ella “She kept doing stuff with her hair. She looked different every time”-Jackson “I was sitting watching a street performer. I asked [Dee] for a cigarette. She said no, but said ‘Hi I’m Dee.'”-Ella“If you don’t accept people out here, you die.”-Dee“We’re here out of circumstance. There is no initiation period, no hazing period. The initiation is becoming homeless. We share. We’re filthy but we take care of each other. Sins can be forgiven out here; we’ve all got em. We decided to be a family here. This is a tradition. The street culture is a tradition.”-Dee