Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be invisible? I know that is the fantasy of many a teenage boy, the uses of such a cool superpower pretty much not going much further than a visit to the girls locker room. Yet every day we pass by folks who for all intents and purposes have become invisible: the homeless.

I never realized the secret to invisibility involved becoming homeless, yet so many people seem capable of exercising their power. No one sees them. They may have a sense about them, the same way you could be in a darkened room and know that you weren’t alone. People know when to walk around them or speed out of the way of a possible solicitation of a handout. And their sphere of influence is quite large. I have found that if you stop to talk to a homeless person, you disappear also.

I was told once that if you hunt deer, you don’t look for the deer themselves, but rather you train your eye to look for movement. Some evidence of presence. The same could be said for finding some of the homeless youth in our city. You look for what doesn’t belong, for example, wearing long sleeve shirts on an 80 degree evening. Why? Because it gets cool under bridges even at night. Or you might see someone dressed nicely but their shoes may be duct taped. Or you may see young people with conspicuous backpacks. Again, nothing particularly telling until you realize that some people need to carry all of their earthly belongings at all times.

There’s a perception that these kids want to be out on the streets, that they are there because they are lazy or are there strictly as the result of their choices. The reality is that most want to transition out of the streets; that they were let down, if not abandoned, by the system.

Nothing definitive, only clues to a greater story, once you know what to look for. If you bother looking at all. Otherwise, they remain invisible.