I followed my dad, I didn’t know where he was going and I don’t think he knew either. We’d worked all day on a paint job for a small business in central Orem, Utah, finishing up after it had already gotten dark, and closed up the office to head out to the street on foot. The next hours would pass slowly as our feet pounded the concrete sidewalks and roadways as we wandered, crisscrossing different sections of the city. We’d pass by a church building and check the doors to see if we could get inside. Dad considered throwing a brick through a window so we could crawl in and sleep on the couch we could see inside. Night deepened and my legs were on fire, body aches had crawled up my back and shoulders and I was desperate and afraid.
We walked on, cars continued to pass us by, their headlights flashing my eyes as they vanished from my sight. I saw the people, their heads silhouetted in the cars as they passed, I wondered about them, whether they would help me if I cried out. Would they take me back to their warm comfortable homes and just let me crash on the floor and sleep? Would they care? Couldn’t they see my need? I would concentrate, attempting to somehow communicate through my heart and mind the desperate need I was feeling, asking for someone to stop, to offer help, not daring to say anything because of my father’s black mood as we trudged on.
We would continue for hours more, miles, ever searching and wandering the streets, sadness and exhaustion growing within me. Anger too– Why wouldn’t he ask for help? Why wouldn’t he know how to find a safe place where we could rest? We ended up backtracking to a small strip mall area, finding a rear door to a hardware store that was unlocked and unmonitored. We snuck inside and felt the slight warmth insight the corridor and crouched down with our backs resting against the wall. In that same squatting position next to my dad, with my arms folded, I closed my eyes and let sleep take me.