Alicia Lamar, the kind of name a movie star or singer would adopt. Lamar smiles and quietly states “My voice is the voice of angels.”

When asked what she likes to sing, she begins muttering about foster care, too many homes, abusive, hitchhiking across country from Boston, a father in the U.S. Navy: Okinawa.
Clutching a lighter in her hand, dropping her pink-and-blue blanket, her deep green eyes watch a growing crowd of Padres fans stack up across the street from the triangle of dirt she inhabits between the library and the Petco Park parking lot. The fans flood across with the changing of the traffic light, with direction from a traffic officer.

“I was shot by a cop,” Lamar said. “In San Francisco. Won my lawsuit. They offered me a job as a cop!” Now 35, the U.S. Marine veteran of Afghanistan with square shoulders and a thick head of red hair begins to tear up when talking about her home on the East Coast. There are some good memories there to go with the bad ones.

Against the dying light of day Lamar realizes she needs more than just her blanket for the night, she some shelter, and soon. There’s a collapsed tent behind her that looks like some of the rods have snapped and the original owner has abandoned it. She circles the tent a few times like a cat, then grabs one side, lifting it high to spill its contents on the dirt. A magazine whose cover features Charlize Theron as as the Atomic Blond spills out, but not much else. After a brief struggle she didn’t expect, Lamar says “It’s heavy for a reason. Forget it.” She pauses then says, “I need a tent.” She tries again, looking around almost pleadingly for answers. One more tug and Lamar gives up again, then sits down on her blanket.

“I was supposed to sing the Star-Spangled Banner for the NFL,” she says. “I’m like Adele. I have a golden voice.”

It’s getting darker, and the crowd passes by like a river, paying her little attention, distracting their kids from her renewed attempts to negotiate the broken tent. She begins a new mantra about foster care, being shot by a cop, Afghanistan. Eventually the tent’s owner returns with two others who set up their own healthy tents. Lamar is denied access and settles just outside the camp on her blanket, hoping someone will reconsider, or at least, the broken tent will right itself.

Veterans, WomenPeggy Peattie