Love in the Park
Six years ago, Davinia Myles noticed a handsome man walking through McPherson Square. Bryon Hawkins was passing through on his way to get some lunch. Davinia, informally known as the “Mayor” because of her warm, outgoing manner, decided to introduce herself. After a short conversation, Davinia made it clear she would like to see more of Mr. Hawkins. “If you leave this park, you’ll take a part of my soul with you.” Bryon realized he had to get to know this woman.
“The rest is history,” he added whimsically. “I came to love her more and more. Since then, we’ve been through lots of ups and downs together,” his tone becoming more thoughtful and serious. A D.C. justice of the peace married Davinia and Bryon on St. Valentine’s Day in 2013. Their stainless steel rings were purchased for $5 from a street vendor. They celebrated that evening with friends at Miriam’s Kitchen, a D.C.-based advocacy organization for the homeless located in Foggy Bottom.
Miriam’s Kitchen’s Director of Communications Tom Murphy describes the Davania and Byron’s union as “a resilient love.” When they married, Bryon was living at a transitional house while he worked part-time and completed his training as a master plumber. Davinia was not allowed to join Bryon at his men-only home, so she continued sleeping on the streets each night.
Davinia and Bryon Hawkins now live together in a tent at 15th and M streets. “As long as I have a meal in my stomach and my wife by my side to love and talk to, I’ll be fine,” Bryon said appreciatively. “We have a one of a kind relationship,” Davinia added, completing the thought.
Each morning, they store their tent and personal belongings behind a nearby church. They eat most of their meals at Miriam’s Kitchen, where Davinia puts her mayoral skills to good use by visiting with all the regulars and making newcomers feel welcome. “I like to try to help everybody,” she explained.
The couple applied for housing many years ago with the District government’s 1133-voucher program, but still awaits action because priority is given to mothers with children, the disabled, and the mentally ill. Although their real anniversary wish is to obtain permanent shelter together, they continue to bring warmth to one another. Davinia would like to celebrate her anniversary with dinner and a movie. Bryon quickly jokes that a trip to Hawaii might be nice. Bryon counts the couple’s “love, compassion, and friendship as our real anniversary gift.” He obviously cherishes the piece of Davinia’s soul she gave him on the day they met six years ago.