My preferences went out the window a long time ago. I almost had a career, but I lost it in violence and failure. Again. And again.
Then relatives have goals for me. I like staying with them, house sitting, watering the plants. But it’s hard to see me through. I commit to a job which would mean me staying with them another few months and saving money. That wasn’t what they had in mind.
Go south, sleep on Anna’s couch on the porch in the LA suburb. Feel good, but know it won’t last. Be polite. Be interested. Don’t do the dishes, that’s her rule.
Back to school, crash and burn, live on loans, drop out, get a place but can’t find a job. Have to give notice and move in with another relative. Get a job. But wait, a different struggling relative will be jealous; you can’t stay.
Quit the job and get on the bus for Boulder– to stay with that old violent boyfriend but he will take you in. Get a job, walk to work, save for a car, get a car, move in with friendly strangers, lease ends, move in with strangers, two jobs, another lease and a lot of vodka later, crack up.
Back to California, friend’s spare room. Then another relative helps and promises a lot. After two months she makes it clear it wasn’t for six months after all, it isn’t ok. Find a job and get butt back into school. Graduate, move on, but I know perfectly well it isn’t mine, rent a room in a house of friendly strangers, sober, medicated — and overeating.
Move on, another state, drive a truck for a while, life is good, meet a guy, settle down– but he’s got some issues. Loses his job. Living with relatives, working nights, holding on, get our own place. But he won’t pay the rent. Be grateful for the food bank.
Things go from bad to worse. Take my two kids and flee to a homeless shelter with a locked door. It certainly isn’t mine.
Been relying on Jesus for some time now.
But they help me because I have children. Yes, the first and second shelters would have helped just me, but cash aid, that’s because of the kids, and the MAC, that’s because of the kids, and I keep blowing interviews, don’t always make sense.
Get on waiting lists, save money, strangers help, but stay solo, don’t make friends, everyone is up in some shit or other and I can’t get drawn in. Then a situation comes, the kids are at risk and no one can help. Someone comes through last minute.
New situation, new room, new rules. Keep your head down.
Keep your head down. It’s temporary. This too shall pass. Can’t find a job, family helps financially. Don’t feel the contempt, pity, don’t get sucked into the neighbors’ problems. Walk carefully, pray, pray you aren’t taking it out on the kids.
Housing Authority comes through. Sleep on the floor, it’s reassuring. Get five months into it, start wanting to run, wanting to feel it break, used to it.
Holding on to the higher power. Holding on.