As I cross the streets and public properties back to Cindi’s shelter, I feel light. Almost capable of flight again. The sun is high and dazzling. A breeze pushes me along at a steady stroll. I will sleep on a mattress tonight! I will shower. I will…I will be more bird – uh, human – than I’ve been in weeks. It will be glorious. Every stray thought finds a home with Cindi, with the future where my feet take me even now.
Invigorated, I climb the steps and enter the shelter. I’ll go find Cindi right away. Maybe she’ll need to send a message to her sister. Maybe she’ll insist I eat good food and drink decent wine in her apartment this evening. My cells buzz as if just resuscitated.
“Is Cindi available?” There is exactly zero restraint in my voice.
The reception looks at me with something akin to fear.
“Are you registering to stay tonight?” Her tone edges the border of impatience.
“Yeah. Yes. I register with Cindi.”
She blinks at me. I think it is the most intentional blink I’ve ever seen.
“Cindi told me to ask for her,” I try again.
“If you want to register, give a name. If not, you need to leave.” This woman’s countenance suddenly makes sense. It may be the way I would have responded to a dirty street person who acted with far too much familiarity…in some other life, anyway.
I give a little cough. It’s a segue, really. An acknowledgement of my place.
“Yes, um, Noname.”
The woman stares at me then taps the clipboard on the desk. I smile and quickly stop again to hid my teeth, which feel completely furry at this moment.
The paper on the clipboard requires precious little information. Last name optional. Number of nights requested. Illnesses, concerns, or fears for safety. That’s it. I scrawl ‘Noname’ in my most foreign handwriting. It takes tremendous concentration to write in any form other than my own. The receptionist notices.
“Others are waiting,” she says, trying perhaps to ignore my writing or maybe my struggle.
I hastily finish and am given an envelope.
“She said you’d ask for her, your roots would show, and you wouldn’t know how to register. Not you, I can take it back.”
“No. No, thank you.” I clutch the envelope as a lifeline.