There are many times that I’ll meet a person on the street who says that they prefer the streets, insisting they are there by choice. Usually, though, I can see the look in their eye; I can tell they don’t mean it. I believe it’s a defense mechanism to rationalize the trauma one goes through when they don’t have a home.
But that’s not to say this is true for everyone. There are those rare – and yes, I believe they’re rare – occasions when I’ll meet someone who is on the streets by choice. Elijah Alfred Alexander, Jr. falls into this latter category. He goes by “Nature Boy” and says he is not homeless, just ‘houseless.’
Elijah says he was a Baptist preacher in the 1970s. He said that since Jesus was a wandering messenger, he decided to become a wanderer. And wander he does. I met him across the street from the White House in Washington, D.C.. I still laugh because, despite his skimpy attire, he still carries business cards with his personal website.
Mental illness? Or just following his heart? Either way, I like to think that Elijah is truly a unique guy who has decided to follow a different path.