The most interesting people I met were the Katrina “refugees.” Not so much the adults but the children. They were regular kids just like me, but no one else saw them as normal. To the world, we all were outcasts, me for living homeless, them for being refugees. Every day they woke up remembering everything they lost, including people they cared about. I saw the girls cry. I saw the boys cry.
“It just feels so bad,” Cornell said. He was my age but his physique far bigger. Whatever they fed to those kids down in Louisiana to get them so big, I wanted some. “One minute everything’s fine, the next everything’s gone. They’re calling us refugees like we’re AIDS babies from Africa. Or like were from Pakistan or wherever the Middle East is. I’m American!”
“Yeah, me too,” I said.
“My friends died in those waters, man. I lost everything. I don’t deserve this, bro. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
–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.