Sunday, December 30, 2012

MARK CHADWICK - Says being homeless is just a title.
     Mark Chadwick is interested that I’m writing a book. He says that he and his friend, Tim, are literal scholars.
     I ask him if he means literary scholars, and he says yes.
     I tell Mark that he sounds like he is highly educated, and I ask him if he has a college degree.
     He says, "No. I’m auto-pedantic."
     Mark Chadwick is forty-two years old. He has been homeless, this time, since 2009.   
     Prior to becoming homeless, Mark was doing contract work for the Department of Defense at Los Alamos.
     He lost his job. Then, he lost his house.
     "The housing bubble got me," he says. "That, and a little bit of cannabis."
     Mark just recently came to the Auburn area, coming here from Austin, Texas. He intends to mine for gold here.
     "This is not just a wild pipedream for me," he says. "I come from three generations of miners. I know how to mine."
     I tell Mark that he is one of the last four interviews that I need to do to finish the 100 interviews for my book.
     He grins. "As always, I’m just through the door."
     He tells me that just before I showed up, offering a twenty-dollar interview fee, he and his friend, Tim, had been worrying about how they were going to get a little bit of expense money to help them make it through the next day or two.
     What’s the hardest part about being homeless for Mark?
     "Terror of being arrested," he answers. "Incarceration is terrifying to me. I fear the police."
     I ask Mark if he has been arrested in the past.
     "I’ve been arrested once or twice in the past," he says. "But it was for minor things, and I was usually in and out in a day. They have always been easy on me, because I kept my mouth shut."
     My interview with Mark was on December 29th. So, I asked him what it was like to be out on the street during Christmas.
     "Actually, it wasn’t too bad," he answers. "I was fed. I was clothed. People were relatively nice to me.
     "This is the warmest city that I’ve been in during the past five years. And during those five years, I’ve traveled all over the country.
     "I’ve had a lot of short-term jobs as I traveled around. But the truth is that in my heart, I’ve felt homeless for the past fifteen years - every since we left New Mexico when I was seven years old."
     If Mark had a magic wand, so that he could be or do absolutely anything, what would he be, or be doing?
     "I’d be a miner somewhere... either out in the desert, on up in the high mountains."
     I ask Mark if he has a message for the world.
     "Yes," he says. "Wake up!
     "You did it all to yourself. Now, learn.
     "It’s not punishment. It’s just data.
     "We never complain while we’re happy," Mark says. "Except for the spoiled ones. That’s why we call them spoiled.
     "I just learned that. It took me a whole, long lifetime just to learn that much."
     I ask Mark what he believes makes him special and unique in the world.
     "I don’t want to say that I’m a messenger of God," Mark says, "But I am one of His messengers.
     "I’ve done a lot of reading. I’ve learned a lot. If other people want to hear it, I give it to them.
     "Anything that gives you pleasure comes at a price," he says.
     "I’m not really homeless," Mark says. "I was born here. I’m going to live here. I’m going to die here. This is my home.
     "The only thing about me and being homeless is the title. And there are plenty of my ancestors back in my family line who have lots of fancy titles. So, don’t try to tell me that a title means anything.
     "It’s beautiful here," Mark says. "But you know, you don’t get to really see it until you have to stop and really look at it."

     This is the one-hundred-and-twelfth in a series of articles about Auburn-area homeless people, written by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor Bob Litchfield.

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