I have a new reader who is also newly homeless in Sacramento County. I have her to worry about, since she’s only been ‘on the Far-Side of Situation Normal’ for a span measurable in days.
In our exchanges of email, I’ve had to confess to this new friend that my knowledge of how to maneuver in Homeless World extends little beyond what’s possible for ‘solo guys.’ The bureaucracy, the hoops you have to jump through, the help that is available, and what secret doorways there are for women to stay sane, adjust and get by are almost entirely unknown to me.
Happily, this friend is resourceful, keeping her chin up and doing her best. Here is her story so far … in her words.
From the Fe-Side
by Street Talker
The last kitchen I had came with a gas stove, a kitchen faucet with sink, and a refrigerator. I griped at times when I missed the dishwasher being there. Today I gripe because ... well, because I don't have a kitchen anymore, unless ya wanna say the bed of my nifty truck is the kitchen counter, and the plastic water jug is my faucet.
It seems that my fate has been to downsize, until, well, until there just isn't much more downsizing that I can do.
One further step down is all that's left to me, and I dread that day when the repo man finds me and my nifty truck. My lovely, unpaid-for, but much adored, truck. My dream truck. Damn, but I love my truck. I went through hell to earn that rumbling bundle of joy. But, since I haven't been able to make the payments, I guess I am going to have to just say, with a last lingering caress of its sweet leather-clad steering wheel ... adieu. Then this whole nightmare will, for real, be too real.
There are some spans of time when I forget that I am a homeless person. Times when I first awake in the morning. At times the forgetting lasts for a few hours. Until I open my eyes, that is. Then it's, "Oh yeah, I'm living in my truck."
I had one such period of forgetting today, until I overheard a person on the other side of the fence tell another person that there was an "alcoholic living in that truck." Thunderstruck, I was. Flabbergasted, in fact. I am not an alcoholic. I do not like the taste of alcohol, and rarely imbibe.
Perception lesson number uno: People think all homeless people are drunks. We aren't. "Wow," I said to myself. "How bleakly ironic that I, a woman who really does not have much tolerance for alcoholics (historical reasons), and may have a beer or glass of wine once a year, is being insulted like that."
It was an insult, just judging by the guy’s tone of voice. I suppose other people believe me to be a junkie or prostitute. Hey, listen, I have nothing against 'em mind you. They are just people. In point of fact, I am among neither of those two subpopulations of the homeless. I was a tax paying, law-abiding ,and peaceable woman before I was denied employment and a home. Before I ran out of money and my options became very limited. I was attending college to become a member of the legal profession.
One whole year to go before I could legitimately hang my shingle, as it were. Then my world was fracked all to hell.
Perception number dos: Not all homeless people are criminals, junkies, or prostitutes, even though TV shows like Law and Order would have you believe otherwise. Some of us are mothers, ex-wives, or abandoned wives and girlfriends. Some of us women-without-shelter are also without a support system of friends and family who can (or will) help.
It's a hard, cold world out here ladies and gents, let me tell ya.