I lucked out and got one of the last seats available to an amazing play called Alice in the Underground, written by Cassidy Phillips with help from teens in the Street Advocacy and Outreach Program (SOAP) in Fairbanks, Alaska.
SOAP’s mission is to provide protection and support for teens who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.
Many of the actors in the play have been or are homeless. They delivered poetic, gut-punching monologues about living with meth-addicted parents, being abandoned at truck stops in the middle of nowhere, and spending nights under bridges when the temperature was twenty below zero.
I spent most of my teaching career working in a small school for at risk teens and what I heard and saw on stage Friday night rang true.
I had many students who were homeless. Some got kicked out of their houses, others fled from abusive situations, and some ran because it was the best choice they could make at the time given their specific circumstances.
I have lots of great memories of connecting teens with books, taking them camping and ice fishing and bowling. And I have a slew of memories of breaking up fights, being threatened, meeting with angry parents, and occasionally dealing with weapons and drugs brought to school. But the first image that jumps into my mind when I think about my former job is greeting each student as they walked through the door and just trying to meet them where they were.
One of the actors last night said something like: When you see one of us on the streets just remember that we’re human, just like you.
Here is the quote, compliments of Security Guard in the comments below:
“As the warm sun returns and the ice breaks keep in mind the winter. Keep in mind my story. And when it is cold and you see me alone wandering the streets remember me… Remember that I am living and breathing this cold air with you.”