Scott, 23, lifts his head first. He shakes Whitney, 25, and they climb their feet.
I know this because one morning last week I was sitting by the curb in a Coleman camp chair waiting for them to get up.
For months I've wanted to tell their story. After chasing them around the Upper West Side for two weeks — following a series of missed meetings, notes left on their gear and my apartment entrance — I finally enter into stalker territory. Interviewing homeless people is no easy feat.
"I brought breakfast," I holler to them when they're finally standing and running their hands through their hair. They smile, and Scott excuses himself to hit the bathroom. I decide to tag along with him. I fold up my chair, stash it in the entry to my building, leave the bag of food with Whitney.
Scott and Whitney met on the campus of Bard College in Red Hook, NY two years ago this January.
"I was visiting a friend who went to school there and I met Whit' at a party," Scott says. "She thought I was a student." He looks over at me, and quickly away, as we cross Broadway heading into Starbucks.
In fact, Scott had been homeless for five years when they met, ever since getting his high-school GED and leaving his mother's home in Staten Island.
Whitney had just lost her job at a local supermarket when they met. For the first time since she was old enough to work, she was unemployed. Finding a job proved more difficult than she'd imagined. Before long, she had depleted her savings, and she and Scott began living on the streets full time.
Back at the church door, Whitney is up and stashing their gear. The doors are open now, and when we walk up she points to the ground. Their Starbucks cup filled with water and cigarette butts has spilled and gotten nicotine brown water on the slate in front of the church steps. "Sorry," she says to Scott.
He looks at me and explains. "One of the reasons the church is cool with us sleeping here is we don't make a mess."
They're folding their blankets when another local homeless man, Jacob, walks up and says good morning. They've already mentioned Jacob to me. He's an alcoholic, and he can't go long without alcohol or he has seizures. He's mad because someone woke him up asking for vodka.
"Of course, I have five bottles," he says pulling out a pint of Popov vodka. "But I don't want to be handing them out while I'm asleep."
The four of us head to 'Needle Park,' a wedge of bricks and benches between Broadway and Amsterdam made famous in the 1971 Al Pacino film The Panic In Needle Park.
我们四个人走向“针筒公园”，针筒公园夹在百老汇街和阿姆斯特丹街之间，只有几条长椅，阿尔帕西诺的老电影《毒害鸳鸯》（The Panic In Needle Park），说的就是这个公园。
"Cheerio" is someone else I've heard about. He's already there wearing rainbow socks and skinny jeans rolled up to the knees. He's homeless, but recently came into a $65,000 inheritance that's allowed him to provide for others in the group. He bought Scott, Jacob, and Whitney new boots for winter, took them to see Steve Miller at the Beacon, and slips panhandlers hundred-dollar bills when the mood strikes him.
It's rumored that he's down to 40-grand. Scott figures it's much less.
Scott and Whitney have both tried staying in city shelters, although they're forced to split up. Whitney got beaten up and robbed. Scott was robbed once and picked up lice the second time. Now, they alternate sleeping between the church and a spot in the park beneath a pine tree.
They go to Scott's mom's about every six weeks, as much as she allows.
"She's a recovering alcoholic," Scott explains. "My dad's broke and lives in the Bronx. They have their own issues."
Whitney's dad is dead, and her mom doesn't know she's homeless. "I talk to her once a week," she says. "We're pretty close." She suggests she's living with friends and her mom doesn't press. Whitney has asked me not to use her last name, because she doesn't want her mom to find out she's homeless and become upset.
Whitney and Scott are eager to be off the streets, and they recently got married. After months of tracking down paperwork in Red Hook, they picked up their marriage license the third week in October and got married on the 27th. One of Scott's high school friend's who became ordained online performed the ceremony.
They've made arrangements with Goddard, an organization that provides assistance to married couples looking for places to live. They've been told that once they're married they'll be eligible for an apartment. Off the streets they figure they can have a phone, keep their clothes clean and dry, shower, and find a job.
Scott wants to go back to school. They're both avid readers. Whitney graduated from high school and Scott did a year at community college in Brooklyn. He's been into French literature lately and posts books he has read and poems he writes to this page at GoodReads.com.
He has dreams of visiting Paris. Of going to NYU and becoming a writer. I ask him about politics, about Occupy Wall Street. He looks at me and says, "We're not political." He shrugs and turns to Whitney, "I've been through three presidents. My life hasn't changed."