The food might not have been pretty, but it kept us alive. Sustenance was the most important part because homeless people like us died daily, and nobody ever noticed or cared. Late at night, I tossed and turned. Hunger pains were like I had been shot in my abdomen, I gripped my belly in pure agony. I wanted to scream for God but the shelter would kick us out for breaking noise compliance. None of us were asleep, but we all remained quiet; we didn’t have any words to speak. I would have eaten a rat if I saw it. My mom told me to try to keep my mind off eating, but how could I when my stomach kept digesting itself? It gurgled louder than any other thought I could think. It prickled the inside of my stomach like a cactus scraping against me. The hunger so painful I couldn’t stand it, I couldn’t do anything but lie there and take it. I would have snuck out to find some food, but security caught the last family and they had to leave the next day. Not fair, but nobody cared about being fair to us. I just laid there depressed, thinking about how many other people in the world who were hungry. Bottom line, whether it is Africa or America, starving is starving.
–My Way Home: Growing Up Homeless in America by Michael Gaulden
From the preface:
This memoir covers the latter part of my homeless journey, ranging from age fourteen to seventeen, predominately my high school years. The horror of my homelessness is what I call it. Allow me to take you down my path and to walk in my footsteps along my own hellacious underground railroad. If you are reading this in the midst of your own overwhelmingly challenging journey, it is you for whom I write….It is you whom I urge not to quit. I know your pain and through my pain, I wish to give you strength. For everyone else reading this, please understand my story is only one of millions of other homeless people.