Tossed About

August 9, 2011

This marks my first attempt at the new direction NokomisDancing is taking. I’ve been going through a difficult stretch and have decided to share it. I don’t have any “followers” as of yet but that is giving me courage. I think if I knew people were listening I wouldn’t be as honest as knowing that, at least for right now, I really am just talking to myself.

Let me explain how this will work. I’m gonna talk to you. Like the words in my head are coming down on this “paper”. That’s it. I don’t give a shit if the English isn’t correct because if you were talking to me, it wouldn’t be. I was raised in a housing project. Some of it stuck. And it tends to come out in times like these when I feel the need to get tough, put my battle gear on, and fight hard. So there you have it. I have experienced a great education. I have a BA in English and I excelled in school, so you’re not talking to the bottom of the class that just barely graduated. I tell you this so you know, if I wanted to write an academic, linguistically correct paper to you I could and I would. I don’t want to. To tell you the truth the only thing I’m gonna check at the end of each entry is spelling because I find that bad spelling ( and I am THE WORST speller ) can actually distract from a piece of writing so much it becomes incoherent to the reader and that would be counter productive. But aside from that, you get just me; speaking the way I would to you if we struck up a conversation on the bus or in a coffee shop. Hope that’s okay.

I begin with the situation that has prompted me to the page: I am Homeless.
Now, if I were on my own, a single gal, that really wouldn’t bother me much. Sounds crazy I know, but I’ve always been a bit of a gypsy and I love life on the road. So, were I single I’d be road trippin’ like crazy right now, sleepin’ at rest stops and livin’ off potato chips. I however am NOT single. I am the mother of the most amazing and ridiculously handsome 11 year old boy. He really is handsome. The kid hit the genetic jackpot. The best his father and I could make available, he got. A good looking and hardy young man he has a raw ass attitude problem and loves me like crazy ( I like that I know that ). He is the love of my life and, inappropriately, my savior. I say inappropriate only because I feel it’s a big burden for a kid to be saving his parents life. I try not to make it one, but it still must be. He really is though. He really is my savior. In addition to my beautiful boy I have a little angel named Shelby. She blessed me with herself a year before my son was born. A then five pound cocker spaniel puppy, she has been my door way to love, teaching me how to receive love, for the past 12 years. It’s an understatement to say Shelby is an integral part of our family unit. My son loves her. We both do. We love each other bunches actually which helps me know that things will get better. We argue. They irritate the living shit outta me sometimes, but my life has no life without them.

I could, and over time will, go off on many tangents in which you will have better opportunities to know my loves and my situation better. I hope to know you well too. But for now allow me to recenter my focus onto the subject at hand, and the inspiration for this blog’s re-direction:
My being Homeless.
Technically I’ve been homeless since March 15th of this year. I had an apartment in a pretty affluent town in CT, about an hour outside of Manhattan. No, I never really could afford to live in this town— Okay, Okay, it’s Wilton, CT. I guess I’m not giving too much away by telling you that. Anyway, I could never afford to really live, as in buy property, in Wilton but I found this AWESOME apartment deal when my son was about to turn three and we’ve been living in town, in one apartment or the other, ever since. Prior to moving to Wilton we were living in Bridgeport, so I knew, because of the reality of that city, that I would have to move before my son started school. The timing was perfect and in 2003 we made the move. I felt like the Jeffersons- LOL.
Anyway, we’ve lived in Wilton ever since. My son has grown up here. He really doesn’t remember much more. This is his town. His childhood home. Mine is Norwalk, a town not far away. I love it there and miss it often so if my son feels anything for Wilton that I do for Norwalk I know how terrible the thought of not being able to remain here must be to him. Don’t get me wrong; I am a gypsy. I love exploring. But I also love knowing where home is. It’s kinda what always sweetened my explorations. That I could leave, and still have a place to come back to. Just me.
In 2008 I left my steady job at a restaurant in Poundridge, NY called North Star. It’s a pretty awesome place, owned by pretty awesome people and I was making pretty awesome money (in waitress terms at least). I left to go back to school, finish up my bachelors, and, I hoped, start living my life fulfilling my potential instead of ignoring it. I have NOTHING against waiting tables. I’d worked restaurants for about 13 years at that point. But there comes a time to move on; when you know you have to step out to step up. Finishing my BA was my first step.
I loved every minute of being back in school. A perpetual geek I could LIVE in school if given the opportunity. Not to live off my parents (which was never an option) like many students, no I definitely paid my own way ( and will continue to pay over the next 30 years ), but because I love learning, thinking, discovering, creating. Just love it. School was GREAT, but finances were tight.
The first year went relatively smoothly, but while trying to renew my loans in 2009 I was unable to qualify because of drastic changes to loan polices that had happened in response to the financial fall out that year. Crazy Shit! I decided to finish my last year of school despite not getting the much need subsidies. It was a stressful year. We’ll probably come back to it, but for now, the back flash must remain focused.Then, I still had a home.
It was after I graduated, into a market with closed doors and hiring freezes, that I started to flirt with homelessness. I had moved twice from the original AWESOME deal apartment that had enabled me to move into Wilton. Once, in 2008, thinking it a sound idea, we moved into a house with my mother and sister. Sound it was NOT and the train finally wrecked in April of 2010. I had two weeks to find a new place, move in, and get through finals. Not surprisingly, my very first bout with hyperventilation occurred mid- April, 2010. The apartment I found was WAY too expensive for me, but at that time, and with the limited time I had, it was the only option. We moved in, May of 2010. The rent was $1850 per month, everything included. By Wilton standards this is cheap. By single mom-just graduating into a market with hiring freezes standards, this was WAY too expensive. But I did it. I kept it up. For a couple months. Couldn’t forever though and in March of 2011, everything finally caught up with me. My land lady struck me a deal that allowed me out of my year lease a couple of months early and there we were, no place to live. The problem is I haven’t had full-time steady employment since Sept. of 2010. Yes! I have taken grunt work, going back to waiting tables, dog walking and being a substitute teacher. The reality of that situation is this… the jobs paid, AT BEST, $1600 per month. That is not going to feed us, shelter us and transport us anywhere but to a shelter. We have been fortunate enough to be able to avoid the local shelters so far. For our first month we stayed with a neighbor, the second, third and fourth months, we lived in the living room of my mother and sister’s new apartment. Now we are in a guest house on the property of one of my friend’s mother. Yes, we have been fortunate in this sense. So now you know the long story, which actually was severely shortened. Were I anything at all like my Grandmother I’d still be writing. She could never tell a story without the full back story included. “Get to the point” was   pointless to say to her. It was the long way or no way. LOL. She was great though.

Homeless. That is what we are. Now, after all this time, we finally face what I’ve tried to avoid: living in the car. But it is what it is right? I know I should be more afraid. But I can’t be. I’m too busy cleaning the guest house I’ve been staying in for the last few weeks. The space is needed for a visitor. I was so angry and hurt. I wanted to scream “but we have no place to go”! No, though, I wouldn’t. Maybe I should have. Maybe even in my situation I should start making demands. Maybe that’s what I have to learn from being in this situation: that if I live life on my knees people will always treat me like I’m expendable. Stick up for my family if nothing else. But how? It was a favor to begin with. How do I respond with such ingratitude. Still, I sit here and wonder, what the hell have I done, do we do, that makes us such burdens to others??? What really constitutes behavior that justifies the people who have helped us, finally putting us out? Sharing space with others is difficult, I know that, but putting somebody out on the streets… I don’t get that. I don’t know why people who love me would ask us to face that. Sometimes we are big ass  pains in the butt. Shelby barks when I leave her, my son cops an attitude, I leave socks hanging around. I still don’t have a job. I get all these things. I get how irritating they could be for someone. But is “irritating” a good enough reason to allow someone, a friend, a boy, a grandson/nephew/daughter/sister to go without shelter? We don’t steal, damage or disrespect other people’s property. I’m sure that we’ve crowded their space, simply by being three additional bodies in the home, along with our clothes and shower things. We’re not Paris Hilton homeless though, roaming around with luggage and such. We have clothes and shower stuff. My son has his Nintendo DS, I have my lap top… I don’t get it, … I feel almost relieved to be sleeping in our car tonight. Nobody can take that away from us. It’s ours, paid for, that’s it. Nobody can tell us to get out. I hear Walmart welcomes transients into there parking lots at night. Not the safest, true, but it’s somewhere we won’t be pushed out of, or timed. I feel timed. REALLY, like people don’t think I want a real job that will pay for a place for us??? REALLY??? How the hell are they justifying that judgement? I’d like to know. This is our reality: I need to make a MINIMUM of $2800 per month to be able to survive. But I also have to care for my son. I can’t work late night anymore. The baby sitting is not there. Truth is, I don’t want to need it. I want to, actually need to, be with my son more. I tried working at night, which required barely seeing him for a couple of years. That was large part what pushed me to go back to school.. I couldn’t stand not being able to parent my child, just to be able to provide for him. Why is that an expectation??? I should be happy for any job offered and willing to throw all the time I should get to spend being a MOM (which, by the way, was something I chose because I wanted it, wanted to DO IT, not pay somebody else to). Is that the new American way? Paying somebody else to raise your kids is now not only acceptable parenting, but required??? No. Sorry. I won’t have it. but I do need work. I’ve become very creative. And ambitious. I actually like the way I’ve been feeling lately. I know I’m broke. Nothing impressive to nobody right now, but I’ve been feeling an unrest that feels good to me. I’m not settling anymore. I’m almost happy to have hit bottom so I can prospect the foundation of what I want to build. All of it’s theory right now, I get that. And theory isn’t a home for us. But I do have this: I’m really not afraid. As long as some dumb ass government agency doesn’t get involved… we’ll be good. I’m kinda feeling like a camping trip anyway, and what better way to disguise homelessness then a campfire and tent?
I don’t know if will pan out.
I’ll keep you posted.

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