Homeless

So from the summer of 2009 until the summer of 2011 I spent the majority of my life homeless, that is without really a steady place to live.

Sure I had socially engineered a complex network of acquaintances who all happened to have very comfortable sofas. But, I still effectively drifted my way throughout the midwest during those years. The bridge in the picture above is a genuine bridge I had a tent underneath for a few months. It also made for some interesting eye candy for those sunny days with nothing to do.

Me then

Missouri 2010, I don’t think that is water

I think my outward appearance was more focused on demonstrating that I had no desire to fit into a single mold, than it had to do with making myself happy.

Living in a world where you can’t be yourself is equally as torturous as it is liberating. I was always known as the care free one. I was very outgoing, and very extraverted. I think this is me during my Velvet Underground homeless phase. One of the more PG ones to be completely honest.

Looking back I now realize that the entire stunt was merely of a reflection of wanting to prove to myself that I could feel something and live without shame or fear.

In a weird way I think I was somewhat attracted to the fear that came with the environment I was intentionally in.

I wanted to be homeless

Summer 2011

So this is something that I think most people miss about the entire “being a bum” thing.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a job. I worked plenty.

It wasn’t that I wasn’t smart enough to do something else with my life. I had money, and my credit was fine. (It actually wasn’t until many years later when I transitioned that my credit went to shit).

It wasn’t that I was addicted to some horrible drug that made me waste my life away. I actually spent most of my homeless career sober.

I just genuinely enjoyed the minimalism, the fear, and the adventure.

In retrospective, I met a ton of amazing people and had some seriously crazy adventures. The irony behind the entire series of events is that hands down every person I encountered along the way would have been completely fine with my coming out as transgender.

The only thing standing in my way was my own mental barriers.

Flying signs, but not wearing makeup

I think this really speaks to the fear that was beaten into me my entire life.

Here I am, homeless, dread locks and all, happy as a clam. I had no future, no goals, and no desire to better myself further than practicing Jerry Garcia guitar solos in my spare time. Something I had plenty of.

I obviously wasn’t too concerned with what people thought of me, or looking out of place or ridiculous.

But still, the thought of letting out my little secret was something that shook me to the core. It was easily several magnitudes harder for me to manage than dealing with sleeping under a bridge.

In fact, throughout these liberating years of intentional freedom I was actually able to begin convincing myself sub consciously that my little secret, wasn’t a secret at all. In fact, it was this small disease that I had to conquer. It was weakness, and I had to use my macho manly anger powers to overcome it.

Statistically my highest ROI sign

So yes, there was a ritual called “Flying Signs“. This is when you go hold up a cardboard sign at a busy intersection and effectively ask people for handouts. I have a lot of philosophical beef when I see this happening now in the wild. Primarily because the culture behind it is really fucked up.

So let’s get one thing straight, most people who fly signs don’t bring their own sign.

I had a rule that I always made my own sign, because otherwise I felt like I was cheating. I always tried to make fun or funny signs, because I thought if I could at least make someone happy then taking money from them was a little more forgivable.

Seriously, next time you come to a busy intersection and you see someone holding up a sign asking for handouts start looking around on the ground nearby. Chances are that there is a stack of cardboard signs under a rock waiting for someone to come grab them and start begging for handouts.

Seriously, they don’t even try to hide them!

In fact the amount of signs laying around on the ground, has a direct relationship with the amount of money one can expect to get from “working” the intersection. The more signs, the more cash. I used to fly signs for beer.

So my shame had completely gotten up and walked away at this point, I thought I wasn’t afraid of anything.

But there was still that little secret..

The exodus

I finally came out of this entire event in the winter of 2011. Winters were always very cold. I was offered a job working with my biological father in Denver, Colorado. I packed up a few trash bags of clothes, my guitar, and a huge linux computer I had managed to keep track of over the years.

Then I left…

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4 Comments

  1. Francesc

    June 27, 2017 at 14:15

    You’re one of most bad ass people I know, respect and 💜

    1. kris

      June 27, 2017 at 14:41

      Coming from you that means seriously so much. Thank you. Thank you.

  2. Ilya

    July 20, 2017 at 18:28

    Kris, this is very inspiring! In our industry, most folks tend to sterilize their online profiles down to most basic fact about their personal lives as if the code is most one has in their life now, and everything else is not just private but virtually nonexistent, really kind of pretending to be non-humans. After reading your story, I really think I should tell mine sometime (which had involved some period of homelessness and soul searching)… The thing is that so far, there is only very little that I’ve mentioned to a few of the closest colleagues, and for some reason I’ve been afraid of talking about most of the things that occurred to me before I got the first job that was worth mentioning on my CV.

    1. kris

      July 20, 2017 at 19:48

      This is so flattering, and I encourage you to share! I would certainly read and enjoy learning more. I think the one big thing I learned about living free and being homeless, was the importance of just being yourself, and not caring what others think. I look forward to reading your story Ilya!

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