by Zach Clementz
It’s 7:30 am. The community room is aglow with florescent light and the easy bustle of the morning is underway. Freshly brewed coffee abounds and bacon and eggs sizzle in electric frying pans on the side counter.
David sits at the highest counter on a swivel chair, sipping orange juice, and conversing with staff in between snippets of classic I Love Lucy. He says to me, in his sudden, witty way that he likes my pants and would like to find some with the “hip-pockets”. I look down at my double cuffed slacks and reevaluate what may or may not be cool about their composition, then look up at David and read in his expression a measure of sincerity.
People differ regionally, it seems, on whether the “hip-pocket” is placed in the front or rear of the pant. David finds himself in the back-pocket camp. I suppose I am in that camp too.
David finishes up his breakfast just as Lucy and Ricky bow out to the Golden Girls. And as the iconic theme song reverberates off every fixture in the community area, as the message of friendship innervates our psyche, I shave David at the sink by the coat-closet. His blanched whiskers turn to a fine dust in the circular blades of the shaver and he says something to me or to himself which, upon reflection, has been impossible to pass over.
Now, quoting David word for word often presents as difficult as the majority of his quips come as non sequiturs, as free jazz. But this I do not think I will forget. “It feels good to be human,” he asserted.
It struck a chord in me.
Many things to humans—especially humans in civilized 2017—come at no consequence. Our habits and routine can be discounted as inconsequential; a splash of cold water to the face from a running tap, minty dental floss and dexterous fingers, a raspberry Poptart springing from a functional toaster or maybe even the common mode of entry to our chosen dwelling.
Residents at David’s House, including David, think twice about certain mediums and implements which affect their transportation, their acquisition of goods, their communication with friends, their involvement in community events, their safety in said community, their methods of donning items of clothing and possibly most immanently, their daily hygiene.
I know that when I attended college my personal hygiene took a turn, so to speak. Burdened with work from a large course load and from working on the food service dish crew, I neglected my most basic needs for a stab at higher ordered thinking. And while I scrabbled to decipher Jung’s Collective Unconscious, my personal unconscious was being stirred by the disintegration of my simplest functions. The result was a very rocky time which included two medical leaves of absence.
I mention my own story because it refers to institutionalization in its, supposedly, most valued form. David’s House Ministries is distinctly different, however, because we pride ourselves on everyday learnedness, on the elemental groundwork of coherent community. We have planned and are continuing to imagine a way to care for ourselves and those in the periphery with goodness and faithfulness. In this way, my greatest observation can only be, that the residents, including David, have implanted and imparted to the staff here at DHM a deep humility in our understanding of the basics of life.
David is at home and we love him. We love his unexpected humor. We love his roving themes. We love his interest in us and his fellow housemates.
Zach Clementz is a member of the Direct Care Staff at David’s House Ministries. Read more about Zach here.