So I’m homeless now. I was asked to leave my college friends’ home very abruptly. And loudly. “Get the fuck out or I’ll fuck your shit up!” was screamed at me by a very large man while I was having a nervous breakdown, which sent me back to the mental ward — again fearing I’d go through with the plans of leaving this planet.
About a week later I spent my first night living in my car. I was terrified. I had a panic attack at a CVS while on the phone with friends who were trying to get me a hotel room, as I couldn’t afford one — but you have to put your own card down. I was having to accept my reality: I was homeless in a city where I knew no one but the screamers, AND my car wasn’t working.
My car/home, Tussy, had been towed to a repair shop near the CVS. After an incredibly kind employee there bought me a super-duper soft blanket and I wolfed down an ice cream cone I was ready to face my reality, and walked back to the car, my wigged-the-fuck-out body screaming every step of the way.
But once I fashioned a pillow out of my headrest cover and laid down I remembered that I had an episode of The Good Wife downloaded. As I got all cozied up watching Eli Gold was weave his delightful web, I was like, “This isn’t so bad.” I felt horrible for freaking out to all of those people — when living in your car seemed kinda like car camping. I fell asleep with no plan, but a warm feeling of optimism.
The next morning while waiting on the verdict on my Tussy car/home I whipped out an online fundraiser for myself, with just a few dollars left to my name. This was the FOURTH fundraiser since this health crisis started, so I was all kinds of tail between my legs and I only posted it after a Facebook comment of someone wanting to help — but it still raised hundreds of dollars that very day. (THANK YOU FRIENDS!)
And then the car guy didn’t charge me! And then he got me hooked up with a hotel room! People are so amazing. I sat there on the hotel bed, never having been so grateful for a shower in my entire life — and thought about the plan I had cooked up the night before: moving to Long Beach.
A store called Buy Buy Baby instigated this move. I was sitting in my car, wondering what to do with myself, kinda zoning out on the sign’s light, when all of a sudden I was like, “WTF am I doing here!?!?”
Santa Clarita, where I was living, is where the theme song for the show Weeds was filmed. I’m not a ticky-tacky kind of woman. I like everything to be unique, not all the same. This preference helped me choose Long Beach, which is a fantastic melting pot of cultures. It’s also home of the band Sublime, the first band I ever got into, so that’s a pretty great introduction.
When I started searching for more grounded stuff: healthcare (still in LA county where my Medicaid finally started up), homelessness resources (solid showers/shelter info), hottest beach (doc says keep it hot but I love the coast), food I can eat (organic/no dairy/no gluten), and Long Beach was winning all over the place. Then I started to research rent prices and was shocked and delighted to discover that it’s much cheaper than Santa Clarita — though still pretty bonkers, but everywhere in LA county is.
So Long Beach it was. I’ve been here for over a month now, having chased Craig’s List leads all over the place to wind up with nothing but a smaller bank account. But it’s still near what I need to get me a $600/mo (if I’m lucky) room, if they don’t ask for too big a deposit. I also have two freelance projects that’ll pay soon, so I’m encouraged, if not totally exhausted.
The scammers on Craig’s List here are more clever than other places I’ve lived, going for your email in addition to trying to get you to send money to Africa or whereever, and I’ve wasted upsetting amounts of time discovering what’s what. I’ve posted as well, but offers for sex work is all my ads have garnered. Unfortunately, I’m also not that kind of girl.
Buuuuut I love it here and my body does too! I’m having a really hard time, don’t get me wrong — but I’m blown away by how much I’m able to do compared to last year, or even just a few months ago. I was out and about for 6.5 hours yesterday, and without a nap! I’ve been applying to part-time jobs that sound like they could work with my condition, but I’m really focusing on trying to get a live-in apartment manager gig. Send juju/hope/prayers, pretty please.
And in the meantime, I’m learning a lot about myself and about the homeless plight. I always wondered how it got to this point for people. I thought that I was too privileged, too fostering of relationships, too smart, too lots of things to ever end up here. But here I am. In shoes that I once judged.
And they are some tight fucking shoes. The programs that are supposed to help are all kinds of tied up in bureaucracy. It takes years to get affordable housing, often longer than a DECADE, if you get it at all, even if you’re disabled. Good to know.
It’s almost a relief for “the worst thing” to have happened. Becoming homeless is the thing that was hanging over me all of those months where my condition had me trapped in my apartment, unable to earn the money to pay for it. I would break down crying near daily just upon thinking that this could be my reality. And here I am, living the worst thing — and I’m okay.
This experience will keep me humble for the rest of my life. I’ll never take the comforts of home for granted, never wish I didn’t have to cook (oh how I miss hot food!), I’ll be spectacularly grateful for somewhere to sing my favorite singing songs, somewhere to do my exercises and stretches where people don’t stare at me like the Gumby-esque bendy freak I am. Somewhere where my closet and kitchen aren’t grocery bags behind my driver’s seat.
Oh! After years of searching for a way to describe fibromyalgia pain in a way folks can really get it, I found one: I broke my foot a few weeks ago, rolling my weak ankle on rocks and then falling on top of it hard when my legs jell-o’d out in response. It’s the kind of broken where it’s smashed into multiple peices! It hurt, but not as much as the fibro-torture, so I figured it must be fine and walked on that poor baby for a week and a half. Hopefully it heals okay…
So today’s takeaways: Fibromyalgia pain hurts worse than busting your foot bone into peices, and worse than walking on it all day for days. And also I’m living in my car. But okay.
Happy New Year!