Workshop 101: Coping with Ageism, Homelessness and Undocumented Immigration

My debut novel, The Intersect, follows the lives of fictional characters living in Phoenix, all facing a difficult challenge. While some of the characters are transitioning through retirement or coping with a marriage that is falling apart, other characters are struggling with loneliness, living a solitary existence without the support of family and friends. But the most interesting characters may very well be those existing on the edge of society – sadly looking in.

For Daisy, an independent senior, a broken hip places her at the mercy of an unfriendly healthcare system and a greedy family – she fears becoming a resident of a nursing home as she faces the challenge many seniors do – an inability to care for herself. For Henry, being a gay teenager has resulted in homelessness and a twisted self-image. He’s different from those around him – and his family has made it clear that he is not welcome. For Ernie who was raised in the United States but told as a child that he is undocumented, there is a crisis of the soul. He believes himself to be an American regardless of his status. He engenders all that is good and true of America though he lacks a driver’s license and social security card.

Each of these characters share a crisis of perspective. Their view of the world is shifted by circumstances out of their immediate control. They are no longer living among us – but apart. They have become “the other”.

By nature, human beings tend to be social creatures. Remove the supports – and discover what lies just beneath the surface. Will our better spirits prevail? Do we find a way to fight back? Can we ever feel whole in a world that tells us we are disposable?

These are the issues that capture my imagination. That make me wonder about the human condition. Each time I see a disabled senior shuttered away in a nursing home, or a homeless person sleeping in the corner of a store front, or hear about an undocumented immigrant being rounded up and deported, I wonder what life might be like on the margins of life. How do they experience the world? Is there ever enough for everyone to be loved? And do we as human beings have the capacity to reach out and offer a helping hand?

I know it is easy to walk away. We do it every day. We hurry away from things that make us uncomfortable. I do it. You do it. We all do it.

But isn’t that the reason why we are all here together? Isn’t it important to try to help each other?

I’d like to think so.

Written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *