I decided to sleep in a park called ‘Harvard Park,’ which was located on Harvard Street in South Los Angeles. I went there because of the connection. I thought to myself: ‘Okay if I will be homeless at least I will be homeless in Harvard Park!’ I am very sensitive to language. I try to use words to connect with emotions. When you are sentimental even the words you say have a deeper meaning.
I stayed at Harvard Park, but by this time it was February and freezing cold. I didn’t even have a blanket – I was covered by the sky. The first day passed by, then the second and the third. I was so cold that I wished I was dead, I wished I could burn myself just to keep warm. I didn’t hear people talking or walking around. There was a lot of misery deep inside. I cried every day and comforted myself by reminding myself that no matter how bad it got it would get better someday. That bad things have come to go, not to stay.
But the cold was really starting to affect me. It got so cold between 1:00 - 3:00 AM. I heard wind and falling branches and leaves and felt like the air was playing tricks on me. I was scared to death.
By this time I could communicate in English, so I could have called a social worker and gotten connected to a shelter. But at first my pride wouldn’t allow me to do that. I was stupid. I should have done that. I respect pride and dignity but living long and prosperous is better than dying for a belief.
After 15 or 20 days of being out in the cold I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sick. Tired. I didn’t feel like a human anymore. Finally, I decided to seek help. I had a phone number that someone had given me back when I was in the UCLA Park. They had told me to call the number if needed help, so I memorized it.
I called. Someone answered. I told them I needed someone who spoke Arabic and someone else called me back in 15 minutes. It was 9:00 PM.
The woman said, “Where are you? I will come meet you.”
“I don't know where I am but I can ask.”
I started walking and dragging my luggage behind me. I heard a radio and assumed the person with it would be a police officer or security guard. The person with the radio told me I was on Brand and Harvard Street in front of the Americana Mall.
The woman came and called me.
I was on the corner, waiting.
“I’m here.” She said.
“I don’t see you.”
“I'm wearing a green shirt, beige pants and I have my luggage next to me.”
“Okay I have a white car.”
“I'm sorry ma'am I am blind.” I said. “I cannot see your car.”
She got so quiet.
Finally she approached me. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that was you. You didn’t mention anything about holding a cane.”
Her husband was in the car and he came out and put my luggage in the trunk.
“Look we're going to McDonald's and we’re going to get you a sandwich.”
But she said it in a way that didn’t make me feel like I was homeless and starving, she said it like they just happened to be going there and they were also going to get me a sandwich. I was really hungry but I told her I didn’t want anything because I’m from a culture where it’s hard to accept handouts, even when they stem from generosity.
“You have to eat it right now otherwise we won't move the car.” She said.
“I'm not hungry.” I lied. “Why should I eat if I’m not hungry?”
“Okay well you have to eat even if you're not hungry.”
“You would like my mom.” I laughed.
“I am a mom.”
I ate the sandwich and told her how I ended up in my situation.
“I will take you to my home but when the organization calls me to take you, do NOT tell them I took you to my house because it’s against policy. Do you understand?”
“I don't care about their rules right now. I will not leave you on the street for another night…”