Thursday, February 14, 2013

How a Hobo Breaks a Heart

(post and photos, copyright 2013, Dawn Weber)

I've bought a wee Spiderman backpack and filled it with only bare necessities - a lunch box, a blanket, a light jacket. 

Everything you need is in your pack; I made sure. The thing only weighs two pounds, tops, but even as small as it is, its size and heft threaten to topple you. You carry it like a tiny, wobbly homeless man - like a little hobo failure. But you don't complain. 

You seldom do.

I've been looking forward to this for a while now; I'm going back to work, you're starting pre-school. We have been home together for two and a half years. It was mostly wonderful - and sometimes awful - and the fact that I feel this way makes me horribly, heart-wrenchingly, gut-clenchingly guilty.

Time at home hadn't been my idea. I was part of a mass corporate layoff shortly after your birth, and my fast-paced, jet-setting world quickly became Barney, burp cloths, the couch.

I should have been grateful - and partly, I was. The rest of me missed my career -  the adult companionship, the paychecks, the capability to buy new shoes. 

But there wasn't a choice.

So I plucked you from the crib each morning, hugged, changed and fed you. Then, we plopped down Indian-style, and I pulled you into the space between my knees and began searching the paper in vain for something it would take me 2.5 years to find - a job that paid enough to cover child care.

A job that paid enough for me to leave you again.

Towards the end of our stint, you lost the diapers and began talking, and those were the best of times, the days you leaned your head back on my t-shirt, heaved a contented sigh and said things like:

"Ahh, boobies. I like boobies!"

You are your father's son.

And we made the best of things, you and me.

All of this runs through my head as I walk you through the hallways to your room. I look down at you, you look up at me, and I know we're both thinking the same thing: Let's turn around. Let's go to McDonald's. 

Let's go home.

I might do it. I might pick you up and carry you to the car. Because all those times I'd wished for one hour, one nano-second, one new pair of shoes for myself - I take them back.

I don't want you to go.

Stay tuned! This piece is an abridged excerpt of an essay from my upcoming book. It was inspired by the pictures shown here, taken that day, as we walked into the school and down the hallway.

He's 10 now. But he's still a good little Hobo.


  1. You made me laugh. and smile. and think back.
    and yes, I like boobies too! ;-)

  2. the story!! Thanks for sharing a little piece of you!!

  3. the story!! Thanks for sharing a little piece of you!!

  4. Aw, man. You made me cry, you rat b*st*rd. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.)

  5. So, so sweet, dear Dawn.
    Those moments are so fleeting.
    I love that you captured the images, with photos.
    And even more movingly, with your words.

  6. Ah! I identify so much with this. Despite the poverty it caused, my favorite and most precious memories are of me, home, with the kids when they were babies and tiny little people. Hours spent making clothespin people, paper bag Indian villages, long walks collecting treasure boxes full of robin’s egg shells, bluebird feathers, smooth stones, and colorful autumn leaves that never kept their colors. Ah! so sweetly sad!
    I remember one young son saying those very same words, by the way. ;)
    Loved this, Dawn <3
    ~ Gale

  7. Beautiful imagery and the photos are heart wrenching. I especially love the one of "hobo" looking up at you. heart!

  8. What a sweet story!
    By the way, 'hobo' is my favorite word. I didn't know it was even possible to have a favorite word, but there you are.
    Oh, I also like boobies, too.

  9. You have a wonderful way of tugging at our heartstrings and making us laugh.

  10. Dawn, you almost had me searching for tissue. You're so talented at mixing sweet sentiment with humor. I loved this story, and he's a darn cute hobo.


  11. RJ - Somehow, I knew that about you. ;)
    Gretchen - You remember the Hobo at this age, am I right? Sigh.
    Linda - Mwa-ha-ha! My evil plan to make you cry was foolproof! Sincerely, rat b*st*rd.
    Susan - Thank you, my dear friend. That's exactly what I was trying to capture here.
    Gale - Oh yes, the poverty! Didn't even touch on that. But you see he had new shoes to go with his new backpack in these pictures, so we had enough to get by.
    Stacey - these are just snapshots, shot with a little point and shoot. But they are some of my most treasured photos.
    Al - Hobo is one of my favorites, too! Along with "crackhead," also an awesome word. Why do they assign such incredible words to homeless people? ;)
    Lisa - Thank you, I do admit to some heartstring manipulation here. I'll be back to my old snarky self next week.
    Robyn - Oooh, a tissue-clencher post! Win!
    (thx, sweetie.)

  12. Oh my god Dawn. I was doing pretty well until I got to that last picture of him going down that giant hallway all by himself. Yep. Tears ensued you asshole.

  13. Hey Dawn, I absolutely loved this! Indigo x

  14. Vixen - As I posted this, I thought to myself, "This is just the kind of post that will cause Vixen to call me an asshole." Then I giggled with glee and posted it. :)
    Love ya, girl.
    Indigo - Well, thank you! Means a lot to me, coming from you!