Kimberly “Kim” 20
Kim was born at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, twenty years ago. She lived in Fort Collins most of her life. When asked if she went to school there, she responds, “I did go to high school, but dropped out.” She doesn’t elaborate on the reason why. Maybe it just wasn’t a good fit.
She studied culinary arts through Job Corps. When asked if she worked in restaurants or cooked anywhere she answers, “Hmhmm,” and nods her head, looking down. Again, she doesn’t elaborate. Maybe it wasn’t a good fit, either. She appears a bit nervous and withdrawn. Maybe this interview isn’t such a good fit. I feel as though I should turn the voice recorder off, drop my pen and put my arm around her shoulder, tell her everything is going to be okay. That’s just my instinct as a father. She showed up to tell her story, and I showed up to listen and record.
These interviews have been conducted over a six-month period, involving eighteen willing participants. This one just feels different. I get the sensation we’d both rather be someplace else. “The show must go on” sounds in my head, unconvincingly. She stays, so I rattle off the list of questions I’ve asked everyone else. My hope is that the sooner she leaves this coffee house, the sooner she’ll go to a place of comfort and family support. But she wouldn’t be here if that was an option. It’s hard for me to imagine not having that option, somehow. Hell, she isn’t even a legal adult yet.
“How long have you been in Loveland?”
“For about a month, off and on.”
“And, how long have you been homeless?”
“Since I was eighteen.”
“So, you were homeless in Fort Collins, too?”
“How does that compare with being on the streets in Loveland?”
“It’s easier in Fort Collins, because you don’t get into so much trouble…”
I pause, because Kim appears ready to say more. I put my pen down and smile at her, saying, “Go on, I’m listening” as best I can, without actually uttering the words.
“There are groups out there that cause attention, so you have to find the right crowd to hang out with…and you’ve got to watch what you do…”
“How about the drug issue? I understand it’s pretty easy to get meth and heroin in Loveland.”
“Yeah. It’s not an issue with me, but they’re easily accessible.”
I pause again, because there are words that seem to be forming in her mind.
“Living as a homeless woman is hard…but you’ve got to do it…if…”
Finally, I have to ask, “Don’t you have any family who can help?”
“I have a mom, and a step-dad. But, they’re homeless too…”
“Up in Fort Collins?”
“No. Here in Loveland.”
“Here in Loveland? So, they can help you…right?”
“No. I don’t talk to them… I choose not to…for certain reasons…”
I pause again, but Kim doesn’t continue. Not externally, anyway. I change the subject, and pick the next question off my interview template.
“So…one of the things I ask everyone is, ‘If you could make a wish for something that would be most beneficial for the homeless – here in Loveland – what would it be’?”
Her response is immediate. “To be well housed, clothed, and fed.”
“The things the rest of us take for granted…” I think, evidently aloud.
“I prefer to help the homeless, more than them get…oh, what’s the word…”
“How do you help them?”
“I help them get food, and clothing…” and she lists the various places that serve food and provide clothing for those in need: The Salvation Army, 137 Shelter, and the food pantries and ministries that provide regular meals for people facing hardship.
“How about for yourself? What would you like to do?”
Her face brightens, and she says, “I want to be a Vet-Tech, but I have to get my GED first.” Another pause. “I wanna get a job, but since I’m getting disability (through Social Security), it would take away my disability (benefits), so I’m not looking for a job, at the moment.” She looks down.
“Well, is there anything else you’d like to say? I usually ask people if they have any nicknames or street names that they use. Do you?”
Again, her face brightens. “My adopted name is Sincere,” and she spells it out.
All the questions on my interview template have answers now. I thank her for taking the time, and wish her good luck. Sincere.
“Thank you,” she says, appearing relieved. And she was gone.