I was worried that my last charity class blog double whammy didn't get to the true story. I wrote it before doing my classes with Steppin Stones the homeless day centre and just mused abstractly about the link between mental illness and homelessness.
But anybody can muse away about that. I think if you're reading this blog you deserve to know the less abstract problems that have come about since last week.
What actually happened last week was less savoury.
Right!!!! Before your mind (which may be poisoned by the Sun and other right wing attitudes to homelessness) jumps to conclusions, I was not indecently assaulted or anything else. Ok?
I merely spoke to a person who was homeless last week who made me feel really, really uncomfortable. That's all. I couldn't get out of the conversation very easily and I could barely shake him off when I went upstairs to the room I do yoga in. This was not my usual yoga devotee at the centre. I eventually got out to the conversation and upstairs unsure whether it was me reading things into things which I can do. Or real. I did a normal yoga session, but also the chap who usually comes was pretty out of it too which was also an awakening moment for me too. I don't know why he was out of form. I didn't ask. It was disappointing, but of course he'll have up and down days. It was an amazing session in the afternoon with three brillant people in Restore.
Thanks for this confusingly coming-on-to-me-or-not conversation last week, this week it was with some trepidation that I parked up near Steppin Stones. I don't want to be propositioned and I don't want to encourage people unwittingly either by how I just look or how I can't seem to be quick witted enough to put advances that are masked in annecdotes down. What if they are just annecdotes?
So I thought I might video my yoga sessions. Just incase. Which would leave the questioning and my interpretation out of it. I set up my phone camera in the room in my handbag. But I felt pretty guilty about it. It wasnt the yoga attendee who had made me feel awkward last week and I felt that I would be stooping very low if I did this. So I put the phone camera away. Just then the Lady who volunteers with the centre came upstairs and had heard from the other volunteers that something had happened.
I'm not entirely sure why the other volunteers didn't help at the time if they felt something was amiss? They had a word with the man afterwards. Anyway, I explained the situation and we are now both clearer what to do in future. She said that if you have to double think if anything is right or not then it's probably not right. Ok. So I'll take that from now on. It's hard isn't it? On the street, you get a sexist comment, or a flirty insinuation, or an attempt to chat you up and you brush it off. At a homeless centre, it has much more significance and impact.
Why does it have more significance in a homeless centre? Is this because of where we are? Is it because I'm predjudiced too like the sun and other hate-ish newpapers? Is it just the track record of the people is clear?
For example of this contrast, only this week some seemingly drunk men arguing in the street heckled me when I walked past. 'you're gorgeous'....'I like your legs'.....'I want to stick it in your bum'..... you know? the usual gross and intimidating comments from people in the street. I don't know if they were homeless, let's assume not. I didn't confront- no way not brave enough for that! But at the centre something far far far far milder made me feel far far more uncomfortable.
Should I not wear leggings?
I don't wear make up to these charity days already.
Should I make more changes?
Should I just give up on all this reaching out stuff? Stick with comfortable offices and boardrooms?
Something tells me that I shouldn't have to.
Any way. Learning a lot here.
On the plus side the chap who is nice and is regularly coming to these classes has been found a serviced sheltered accommodation. I'm away for a little bit and he's going to try and do pranayama in the mean time the nadi shodhana hitting a chord with him.