THE RIGHT TO URINATE
I have never been homeless – unless you count that one summer spent camping on my husband’s parents land. No that doesn’t count. We had access to the land, access, to the homes of relatives. Lots of choices.
I have never been homeless, but I did spend 14 months looking for a place to pee. For 420 days me and my spouse abandoned our access to home and work facilities and embarked on an adventure in bathroomlessness. To make matters worse we chose to engage in the kind of activity — sitting on a bicycle seat — guaranteed to result in chronic urinary tract infection.
Constantly entering new territory where the places to pee were unknown, we became pit hunters and experts at letting it rip on side of the road without getting arrested. It was easier for him of course. However the stakes were also higher for him – school social worker who could lose his license if caught exposing himself in public.
Bicycling 12,000 miles around the perimeter of the United States , we discovered that some places were much better than others at providing access to bathrooms. Some the more “progressive” cities were the worst. Boston. San Francisco. Some of the more regressive and poorer regions – rural South Carolina – the best.
I’m visiting the Bay Area this weekend. There is so much I love here. The smash of cultures, the glorious natural setting. I took the BART from the airport, got off on Powell Station, walked to Union Square and up Geary Street delighting in the crowds , the sound of Spanish and Chinese. The smell was unmistakable, delectable street food, salt air … and urine.
Heading up the block I saw a man with two dogs who stopped to lift their legs on a street sign. As they did the man unbuttoned his pants. I didn’t see the rest – just the shocked look on the tourist walking in my direction.
It was great to see the Department of Justice rule it unconstitutional to ban sleeping outside last month- nullifying California ordinances.
Urinating is also a human function everyone must do. We need legal healthy places to do it.