There is a population that chooses to live on the waterways of the United States. Some have boats that are sound that will travel all through the Inter Coastal Waterways, or ICW, and others that can’t go any further than where they are moored. Some are rebuilding their boats so that they can go somewhere, others do not. Some states qualify these people as homeless. From the way I have experienced homeless, it is having no physical place that you can call home. These people have a boat. They have water, toilet facilities, generators for electric, or solar panels to collect energy to charge batteries, they have gas engines that run. I’ve heard locals in one area call the boats derelict. That awful tendency of us all to judge another person’s existence.
I’ve camped most of my life. I can not remember a time that I didn’t go camping. As I grew older, I always thought it would be great to buy an RV, sell my home, and travel the country and see it, living in my RV. Does that make the thousands upon thousands of retired people who do just that homeless? Because they choose to have no permanent physical address? Instead, they buy a mobile, movable home that they take with them. What is the difference between those retirees and the people who buy a boat and live on the water? I don’t really see any. It’s just another type of vehicle, meant for water, instead of land.
The neighborhood on the water is not necessarily tight knit, but they do something that we lost somewhere along the way in America: barter and trade. Money is tight, and when it comes down to it, money is probably tight for all of us. Instead of using money to pay for goods or workmanship, they trade and barter. Maybe one guy can sew sails and the other guy is good at repairing small engines. A woman is good at cooking and another guy works on a shrimp trawler and gets free shrimp or scallops. Trade for skill, barter for goods. We used to do it in the early 1900s. We used to do it as we tore up our roots in the East and headed West, homeless with no destination for certain, as we traveled along the route to find our new homes. It was the American way, to give a hand up to our neighbor. Not to judge them because they didn’t have the most expensive house or rig, or best horses or livestock. It isn’t any different now. We just got away from it.
We don’t need to label people anything, homeless-transistional-transient…..it makes no difference. It still is our country. America is our legacy, and what made us who we are is how we treated each other. It’s time to knock off labeling people and what they have or don’t have. It’s what is in our hearts that made us great, that gave us the edge the rest of the world can never understand. It’s time to get back to it. Open your minds and hearts and look past the superficial, it’s what our hearts are doing and calling for that is important…not what we have in this world. It gets left behind when we die anyway. Build those treasures for heaven, not here.