Learning by immersion.

Anyone ever try to learn a foreign language as an adult? Ever run into the “immersion” method. The class where the teacher never spoke a word of English and you spent the first half of the year trying to figure out if she meant “Take out your pencils.” or “Come up to the board.”

Or.. If you were perhaps more fortunate, you got to take a summer semester in some foreign land during high school or college. Where you lived in the language, studied in the language, and played in the language.

I can’t help but feel that I may be close to entering an immersion learning situation myself. A different culture definitely, and perhaps a different language as well.

The street homeless people in this area know who I am; not personally, but aware of my comings and goings and knowing I’m similar to themselves. I get nods of recognition, slight waves of a hand, a flicker of a smile come and gone too fast for anyone it wasn’t directed at to catch.

But I’m not actually living their lives yet. I’m not sleeping in their camps, I don’t store my stuff in the communal storage spot beside the fence or behind the scrub brush beside the road during the day.
They acknowledge me but don’t include me yet.

I, though, have been noticing many mobile homeless in the area. Usually older vehicles, parked in a corner with a person taking a nap with the front seat still forward and upright. The shadowed shape of a body, moving very slowly to a slightly new position.

So far, what has intrigued me the most is the difference between these two sub-societies. I never see mobile homeless together. No congregating at the rest stop picnic table, no sharing of spaces or traveling together. I have seen the street homeless meet up together when they’re out of the public eye. I see them get together in the morning at certain spots and talk before they each go to their corner/intersection.

I’m just guessing, based on my own responses so far, but I think perhaps the mobile homeless still have some connection, even if only in their minds, with their previous life. They still have something to lose. Whether this fear of loss is of the police or other homeless I don’t know. I am more concerned actually about my vehicle being towed or impounded because someone who has more power than me is having a bad day. That is, I’m more afraid of losing my mobile home to the “authorities” than I am to other homeless.
I have no idea if this is an accurate fear and I would just as soon not find out.

Field studies and total immersion are for people much younger than I.

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