Sunday, September 18, 2011

homeless in Athens

Last weekend I wandered around Ikea. The international mecca of nesting. I have to admit its quite easy to go in there on a budget and come out with a comfortable little apartment. Sure I wish I had the time and cash for more eclectic pieces, but with ten credit hours of law school and forty hours of work, I don't have time for everything I want. I need a functioning home so I can sit on Sunday afternoons procrastinating the writing a forced appellant brief by drinking coffee and reading news.

The number of homeless in Athens, Greece has risen by 25%. These are normal people who had homes, careers, dreams and ambition. These things are fragile and over the last two years austerity measures we read in headlines have not had a face. Middle class, educated men and women are desperate. It is scary and real and heartbreaking.

Last weekend while lost in the huge store full of mock up apartments I saw one that didn't make sense. My friend and I stopped and counted the beds. It was a five hundred square foot apartment with no less than eight sets of bunk beds. It was a genius work of lego-like perfection that made every inch work. There was a large-ish kitchen at the center with tons of seating, a closet like area, a small but well organized bathroom and the perimeter was all beds. I remarked to my shopping companion how odd it was and how it must have been a mock of a hostel. Could you imagine sixteen people living in five hundred square feet?

I cringe when I think of the movie Fight Club and how I am trying to get the coffee table that says something about me. Its all nonsense. Months ago I had no place of my own. Now I need just the right wall art.

That number, that %25 - its an under estimate and relief organizations say they can't account for the people cramming apartments and sleeping on couches.

Was Ikea demonstrating how to set up your own shelter?

Rethinking my apartment my front hall could be lined with lockers. My living room could sleep eight, my bedroom twelve. The closet could be an incredible pantry and everyone could store one trunk under the bottom bunk.

Ridiculous. But that is the function of a storyteller.