The other day Chacalit posted a story about being homeless. Actually, it was a thank you note to those who helped her. I replied to her post that I have feared being homeless.
This started me thinking. I have spent most of my life more or less homeless, or transitioning between temporary homes. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have always found a bed and a warm place indoors to sleep. That has been enough to be more home-full than those sleeping on the streets. This makes me grateful to a lot of people who have been there for me in ways I have too often overlooked. It also leaves me very humble in the face of those who haven’t had my advantages.
My parents were always one step ahead of the street. My father would gamble the money away, work hard but often not be paid enough, and sometimes not at all, as contractors would run before payday. But there was always a roof over our heads in the next town or next state. Sometimes grandma would come and feed us eggs and toast, but I don’t remember ever being hungry. We always stayed ahead enough. As a child, I don’t think I ever consciously realized how precarious our situation was. We just moved a lot. As a young child, we moved to Florida, following the post-war building boom. We had beaches and even a neighbor with a pool. I knew the pain of being bullied at school for my second hand clothes and my questionable grooming, but that was not in my mind related to poverty, at least as far as I remember. All of our direct neighbors were poor, too, which makes it less notable.
So I grew up to be comfortably itinerant, which has been a real advantage. It’s a long and twisted tale of adventures and misadventures, but I have always stayed a step ahead. I’ve lived in campers and tents, warehouses, basements, log cabins and geodesic domes, I have enjoyed the hospitality of friends and family, even past the expiry date – certainly testing some patience. I’ve actually owned a couple of homes, but not for too long. I even built one, which my ex and I sold so we could go back to school.
So home has a deep meaning to me, but it has not been something that has driven my life to the point of bad choices and too many compromises. I know how to live on the precarious edge, but I’m now ready to try again to find a home. I don’t have the task of tearing up roots so I can retire abroad.