Normally after work I pick a spot to venture off to with my camera, on this particular day I sat on a bench in Lincoln Park surrounded by luxury apartments and the richness of nature. Behind me a young man tide up his slackline and proceeded to walk gracefully between the trees. I occasionally looked back at him contemplating if I should walk over and ask to give it a try. I would have if it wasn't for the three travelers that immediately gained my attention. They walked past in exhaustion hauling their gear and dogs as I smiled at them wondering why they lived like they do.
I wasn't sure if I would walk up to them, but after telling my partner about my curiosity I finally went over to them as a suited man with a pug approached them. I heard the man say, "you are only young once" before he called one of the boys over to give him something. As I walked over too them I asked the girl if it was ok to pet the dog as it began to walk towards me. I asked how they ended up in the park and what brought them to living in their conditions. The boy who spoke to the suited man came closer explaining that his journey recently began, but they were headed west and chose to live the way they do for numerous reasons. The other two have been traveling for nearly 5 years on and off.
He said the man in the suit gave them $60 dollars and they wondered if I knew of any stores in the area. As I thought about the stores I knew around his dog was nudging at my leg to pet its head. Steve was surprised at how she warmed up to me and mentioned that he rescued her from Wicker park not long ago. In the midst of asking if I could take a picture of their dogs he noticed my camera letting me know I could. I quickly kneeled in to snap a shot of the other dog and turned around to witness Steve's bond with his dog Time.
After taking these pictures I asked if there was a way to send the photos to Steve and wished them well with finding the store before the storm came in. While walking down the trail I turned around back towards the gazebo where they took shelter and asked if they would like a ride.
It would have taken them one hour to walk to the store after walking all day to find shelter. I helped the three of them with a ride to Trader Joes and 7-11 to grab food with the money the man gave them. In the 15 minute ride I learned that all of them were full of so much kindness. Sue the girl use to volunteer at an animal shelter that provides medical care specifically for animals of travelers. I asked how they were able to survive and make money other than from generous people. She said they are often misunderstood so much that it is hard for them to re-enter society in the work force and obtain apartments so they continue to travel while becoming accustomed to the lifestyle, but they were working towards completing their band since they perform music to generate money. I shared a little bit of my story before I dropped them off back to the gazebo where Sues boyfriend waited. We met as strangers and left as friendly acquaintances. Most tend to know them as "gutter punks" ... I'll always remember them as great people.
... and Animals :)
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
― Mark Twain