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Camille J. Wheeler

On December 29, 2018, a man named Steven was living in a vacant parking lot in South Austin. It was cold, in the mid-40s, and Steven was wrapped tight in a blanket. He kept his belongings in a grocery basket, and he said he found things here and there: money on the ground, a gold ring that he sold for $5 to another man who in turn sold it for $75. Steven was both cynical and optimistic. “The more I cuss God out, the more he gives me,” he said, explaining at length the delicate balance between the difficulties and blessings he had been given. He was soon to turn 49, and he didn’t ask much of people. A nod, a smile, a quick hello, a recognition of his existence. Just the awareness, he said, that we all need someone to talk to.