I am continuing a series of posts I have been writing over the last year about working and middle class homelessness in America. The rest are all on my blog:
This is the latest addition to that series.
This was the last photo taken in the apartment my daughter and I vacated over the last couple of days.
The same apartment we felt so blessed to get into in a hurry right after Thanksgiving last year that, while not a complete nightmare, was definitely a HUGE disappointment. Or whatever you want to call mice, ants, mysterious water leaks that we never did discover the source of, and in the final couple of days, an industrial sized cockroach that opted to menace us, first from the hallway, then from inside the apartment.
When it finally occurred to me that I didn’t know when the Sheriff was coming to lock us out, my daughter and I went into a flurry of getting as much of our stuff could fit into my car into storage, then refilling the car with the stuff we were going to need day to day. My rules for my daughter were simple, “Grab anything that actually means something to you, and pack it in the box you have. In the bucket, only pack things you can actually fit, and wear on a regular basis.” Of course some things got left behind, including the vast majority of our large furniture and appliances. I grabbed some pots and pans that it would be very difficult to replace, as well as my Tupperware (You will pry my Tupperware, especially my few nice pieces, from my cold, dead hands), and tossed those in storage yesterday. But for a couple of chairs that my daughter and I fit into the hatch of my car, and our electronic items, whenever we get another place, my daughter and I will be completely starting over. As I stated to my daughter over and over again while this was going on: “It’s only stuff.”
One of the Bible stories that kept occurring to me over and over again during this particular go round with my housing situation was the story of Job. For some reason, I was taken with the idea of studying the story of Job in depth during Lent a couple of years ago. The short version of the story is that Job was actually a good guy, and Satan suggested to God that Job was only praising him and faithful because he was successful and didn’t want or need anything, and his kids were healthy and happy. So Satan bet God that if Job lost everything, he wouldn’t still be happy and faithful and praising Him. God basically told Satan to do what he wanted, so long as you don’t kill him. Satan took God up on it, and made sure Job lost everything: money, livelihood, family, house, eventually, even his health. Job’s friends came around to tell him what a loser he was, and how everything that was happening was probably his fault in some way shape or form, and how he should just leave all this God business alone, and just die already. Job wasn’t having any of it, which he told his friends to their faces, although privately he whined to God, “What did I do? Are you mad at me, or something?” After a couple of rounds of God telling Job not to tell Him His job (a summary of a much longer conversation), God eventually restored everything that was lost and destroyed back to Job, and the narration of the Bible resumes.
I again contemplated the story of Job as I prepared to possibly spend Sunday night in my car with my daughter as I didn’t get paid until Wednesday, and I had spent the remainder of the money I had left getting what of our stuff we could into storage. I burst into frustrated tears as the one thing that terrified me, my biggest fear that I had been doing everything possible to avoid, visited me for the second time inside of one year. Watching my daughter watch me, I realized that I had a decision to make.
Was this going to bend me, or break me?
After a series of texts and phone calls, I secured a few days at my sister’s place until I could get a motel room for us, some phone numbers that I called today (every homeless service in my area is taped out beyond belief: Homelessness Increase in South Bay ), and in general started making plans to live in motels until I find a way to put it all back together again. Again.
Like Job, I finally understand a few things about this life. Although old Job was blameless, I made a few mistakes along the way, and I earnestly tried to fix them. It didn’t necessarily work, obviously. But like Job, I know that losing my Faith just because things appear to be at a dead end, would be the worst thing that I could do. Especially right now. I am already putting in the hard work to improve my situation and repair my credit. Everything I was raised to believe as a Christian tells me that so long as I continue doing the right things to put my life back together, God will meet me more than halfway. The Spiritualist/Humanist version of this says that What you put out into the Universe is what the Universe gives back to you, and often more so. So we all agree that hard work and blessings often go hand in hand. Which is the face I want to show my daughter while all of this is going on.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. Job 42:12
I hope so. I sincerely hope so.
A friend of mine suggested the I do a Go Fund Me to help with my living situation in the meantime. Pride-wise, especially since I have been through this before, AND very recently, at first I rejected the idea. But I swallowed my pride and did it anyway: Sometimes, I hate my life. Will I ever live down my mistakes? Only time will tell.