Portrait Photo
"When I was a kid, I used to come down here and hang out and party with the little college kids, and from there, I just fell in love with the town. And for some reason, I keep coming back."
What follows is a lightly edited transcript

On June 17, I found out that I have terminal cancer. I didn't want my wife and kids to see me die, so I made a choice to be homeless. I gave everything to my family, and I rolled out. I came back to the West Virginia area to say my final goodbyes to everybody. The doctors told me last Friday that I have less than a year. I'm at peace with the Lord, and I'm at peace with myself. Nobody's going to change my mind; I have no reason to change my mind. I won't live to see 49, and I'm content with that.

I was sexually abused by a cop, and the cop got away with it. I spent 5 years in a juvenile home because I tried to kill the cop for molesting me. My sister committed suicide because the same cop molested her. It cost me 5 years of my life because I tried to remedy the problem so nobody else would get molested by the cop. When I turned 18, I've been homeless off and on ever since.

The biggest challenge [about being homeless] is mental health issues: alcoholism, drug addiction - I'm clean now. By choice. If I wanted to do drugs or drink, I could do it anywhere in the world for free. There's enough people that I know and enough places that I know that I could do it free. I choose to have the better life. I want to be sober when I die.

A majority of us [homeless people] have drug and alcohol or mental health issues, and I'm in recovery—11 years, 2 months, 17 days, and I'm the one that chooses to stay out of the drug scene. I won't even take my bipolar medicine because I'm afraid it'll fire up my addiction, and I don't want to be an addict again. It took me too long to get clean, and that's the way I want to want to remain.

If I could do anything to help the homelessness situation, I'd take every one of these abandoned buildings in this town and turn those into subsidized housing for disabled and mentally unstable people and put them in housing. That's the main problem. I'd like to get housing here and reconnect with my final child. After that, I'm good to go. Let the Lord have me anytime he wants.

What I love most about my life right now is the freedom. I don't have the responsibility of other people depending on me so I can deal with my issues.

I'm a master carpenter by trade. I've got 35 years of experience, and I can make up to $38/hour. But because I'm bipolar and have ADHD, it's hard for me to keep a job. My hands and my head make my money. And my daddy taught me that "if you don't work, you don't eat," so I like to work.

These days, I'm living out of my truck. It's hard, but it's okay especially when you got a running buddy to make sure you're safe. He covers my back, and I cover his.

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