Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC
Alice was sitting on the sidewalk one warm Spring day this week near a construction project in the NOMA neighborhood of Washington, DC. when I first saw her. Construction workers were passing by her hauling equipment and other materials as if she wasn’t there. I suggested to her that it might be safer to move across the street. Strangely enough, she gathered up her small trash bag of belongings and followed me to a quieter location. Sadly, Alice is mentally ill. You wouldn’t notice that unless you talked to her for a bit and noticed that the headphones she is listening to and singing along with aren’t plugged into anything. I asked about her necklace and matching earrings and she said that they were gifts from a royal family that she once lived with. It is impossible to know what is going on with Alice beyond that she appears to be homeless and in need of clean clothes and a some personal hygiene. She was able to agree to this photograph in exchange for a bottle of water and some food for which she thanked me saying, “the royal family will bless you.” There are many homeless, mentally ill people living on the streets of Washington, DC. some of them are loud and boisterous and cannot be easily ignored. Many are like Alice who are largely invisible unless you take the time to stop for a minute and have a conversation. If you know someone like Alice, give that a try sometime. You’ll both be better off having had that experience.