Way Home Outtakes: Consider the Shopping Cart

Over dinner recently, my husband asked me if I was still writing blog posts. I replied, “No, not really.” When he asked me why not, I recounted how I had started writing this Medical Margins blog back in 2010 as I was processing my elderly father’s final illness and the insanity of the US healthcare system, especially related to end-of-life care. In my blog, I then moved on to trying to rekindle a passion for the rather problematic (to me) profession of nursing. Then, I became interested in the health humanities and the somewhat insular academic world of narrative medicine. And, always, homelessness. Fast-forward to today, and my writing time and energies go towards writing books on homelessness and health.

City Hall Park, Seattle. June 25, 2022. Photo credit: Josephine Ensign

I am a part-time, nine-month employee and professor. I live for my summers off now when I have uninterrupted time to write and be a grandmother. This past summer, I made good writing progress on my next book, tentatively titled Way Home, about the contemporary landscape of homelessness in Seattle and King County. Refining and tightening my storytelling approach to writing (with terrific assistance from an editor), I edit out passages I might love but which do not pass the “So what?” test. I keep these darlings in a Word file titled “Extra.”

COVID caught up with me this summer, along with a bad bout of COVID rebound, and yet I pushed myself to continue writing. Some of these fever-induced passages ended up in the “Extra” file. Here is one I like, although it most likely will not make it into the final book manuscript. The photograph, however, likely will.

Consider the shopping cart. Constructed of wire and plastic and supported by four wheels, the cart’s purpose is to carry store merchandise before and after purchase. The shopping cart, developed during the Great Depression by an American man for use in grocery stores by housewives, becoming super-sized and non-gendered, an exquisite symbol of capitalism. The shopping cart, appropriated by people experiencing homelessness, serving as container and conveyance for their remaining belongings, a somber symbol of the fallout from late capitalism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.