Sunday, August 16, 2015

How being homeless 6 months changed me

city sunset

In January of 2015 I made a huge decision in my life. I was behind on bills, not making enough to support myself, and I was miserable. I was in an apartment in the city working a normal 4-12 job 5 days a week with weekends off. Yet every day I questioned what I was doing with my life and what the point of life was. I was confused, sad, depressed, and going to therapy each week was only bringing one thing to the surface more and more; I would never be happy here. This was the town I was raised in that my family lived in, and everyone I knew here was happy. I would never fit in. My open minded ideals, my spirituality that did not fall into any mainstream religion here, and this empty place in my heart, soul, and mind would never be sated here. I made a scary and powerful decision; I would leave. I had said for years I would, when I was 14 I had said I'd move to Colorado or some place by the time I was 18. at 26 here I was, still in the same place. I was afraid I'd fail, fearful that money would keep me away from my dreams, and lonely. In a town full of friends and family I was so heartbroken and lonely that I couldn't even describe it to my therapist. I was homesick for a place I'd never been and couldn't find. My heart ached to find my home. I had lost the happiness somehow and didn't know where it went. I used to be so happy in the south but something changed. Either me, or them..the politics and religion.. I'm not sure. So I sold most of my belongings except a few heirloom antiques, took a loan out to buy a 5x8 trailer, and loaded my van and trailer with all my possessions and my animals, and I moved to a temporary place. I had a friend that offered to let me stay with her. I had set my due date for moving to Feb. 22nd. I would stay with her until then and then move to Connecticut. Did I have a fail proof plan? Nope.

I called the office for the company I work for located in the heart of Connecticut. I told them I was moving there Feb 22nd and would need a job, could I transfer? What would I need to do? They were reluctant to really give me an answer, but I kept calling and bothering them. My final answer was call us when you're here. So Feb 22nd rolled around. I was terrified. I was moving 1000 miles away to a city where I knew no one, on a job that I wasn't sure I was getting, with only 950$ in my pocket. it was terrifying; Was I screwing my life? What if I broke down? What if I got stranded? What if nothing worked out and I was living in my van homeless?

I made it to Knoxville, stayed with a friend 4 days and when it came time to leave there the terror was far worse. I slept overnight at a rest stop in Virginia. Am I really doing this? Have I lost my mind? I stayed 2 days with an old teenage friend in new york. This is it, I'm crazy. I landed in Connecticut. I have animals so I had to find the only Motel 6 I could find. No parking for my little trailer. They couldn't take me. I went to my car and cried. What will I do? There's 5 feet of snow everywhere (hence why there was no trailer parking) and I have no where to go. I mentally smacked myself. You have to be a grown up now. It's time to be an adult. No one will fix this for you. Everything will be alright. We will find a way. I called around. Finally, 10 miles away, a Motel 6 with trailer parking. They had cleared their lot enough. I had spent 350$ on gas on the way up. I paid for 2 weeks at the hotel. That was my remaining 600$. I had packed some canned food before I left. The hotel was basic; no microwave, fridge, or kitchenette at all. Just two beds, a TV, and a bathroom. I opened a can of cold black beans, ate it all with a spoon from the can and called it a night. I snuggled my two dogs and cat tightly and prayed I would come up with a way to make this work.
The next day I called the office. I'm here! They were surprisingly happy. Can you come in Thursday to interview? Yes! I hung up, wait...interview? But I already work for you guys, I'm not transferring? Whatever, we will figure things out as they go. 2 days went by and I went no where and did nothing. I laid in bed sullen and depressed beating myself up mentally over whether this had been the worst decision of my life or not. I had very little gas and no money for anything. When the day came to see the office, I dressed up as nice as I could without having owned anything fancy and drove to the office. The interview process went great, I faked confidence that amazed them. I was hired; I started next week. My first pay check would come 2 days before my time at the hotel ran up.

This carried on for 3 months until the hotel price went up vastly. I panicked, thinking again that I had made the wrong decision to come up north. I couldn't find any apartment willing to take all my pets for less than the hotel. After a week of solid searching every day at work I found a place. It was not in the best part of town, but was 2 miles from work. I got moved in, and that very day someone attempted to steal my entire 5x8 trailer while I was at work in the work parking lot. No one saw anything.. (How does that even happen??) Out of fear, I left my vehicle and trailer at my apartment from that day forward. I owned a bike with no gears, just a cruiser. It had two baskets; This would suffice to carry my work clothes so I could bike in comfortable clothes and still carry my backpack.

Flash forward to now as I'm writing this. My trailer has been emptied with the help of coworkers that became friends. I love this apartment and biking 2 miles to work and 2 miles back every day on top of walking 6-9 miles at work has forced weight loss. I look healthier and eat healthier, I can afford everything and am finally fixing my credit that started going bad in 2012. I'm going to Tennessee next week to visit my family and friends. But this is home. I work a 0500-1300 job that I adore, my coworkers are tightly knit friends and I have made connections here and feel safe. There's been a few scares but over all the experience was great. It amazes me that the only thing holding me back was my fear. I could have gotten a minimum wage job if I had to, and tried to make things work. since I've been here I've paid off 4 debts that had gone to collections. I only have 4 left.

So I have a job, an apartment, friends, and life is going well. Sure I'm in the corporate rat race in the upper business world surrounded by suits and ties, but I have fallen in love with it. I am surrounded by open minded and non-religious people like myself, that swear just as much as I do. Basically, I'm not in the south anymore, thank the gods.

But best of all.. I finally found the place my heart was so sick for. I found the piece of my soul that was void, and filled it back in. This city was my lost lover, I just never knew I had missed her for 26 years. Don't let fear keep you from yours. I'm not saying that this will last forever. I may decide in 3 years to move somewhere else and become mobile again. One thing is for sure though - I will always do whatever makes me happy.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Semi-permanent residence

I'm staying at a pet friendly hotel with my animals. Most of my belongings are still tucked safely away in my trailer with the exception of daily needs and season appropriate clothes.
I've gotten a better feel for this town, the population is about 12,000. The police do paperwork in our parking lot and there is steady flow of people in and out. It feels safe enough. I keep everything locked tightly but I am getting used to the city sounds. It was very difficult to sleep at first. I wish there was an option to just live in my van but the cold is more than the pets can safely handle.
So far there have been no troubles getting about with my trailer anywhere. Work is downtown in the state capitol but we have security guarded parking and I am well known now so it is safe left there.
The hotel is a big dent in my funds, but careful spending will allow me to stay here indefinitely until I find a home.
Despite the cost, I am pretty happy here. I like the town, and so far I'm enjoying work, and getting to see my sister often. I've noticed I take much better care of myself. It's strange how being happy does that to you. I fix my hair daily.. wear makeup regularly, and I used to never care whether I was out in pajamas or not... I was kind of sloppy outside of work. Here I always check that I am appropriately dressed in case I run into any coworkers or opportunities to make good impressions.
The animals are happy, my only issue is the weather has made a huge dent on the exercise the dogs are getting. I realize this is a problem so I bought them more toys and try to keep them playing and busy.
Overall we are doing well, and adjusting quickly. Especially since socializing with my sister is so frequent now. Here's us having tea!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Living with the yankees

Well it's official. I have arrived and secured a job in Hartford, Connecticut. I am currently staying at a motel with my animals and hoping to find a 2 bedroom house to rent with my sister soon. The job is full of benefits and bonuses so I am very excited to get started up here.

I stayed in Knoxville, TN for 4 days. Got snowed in at a friend's house..but it was enjoyable spending time with her as I know that I'll be too far to just drop in anymore.

Then I made it halfway through Virginia before getting too sleepy and decided to stay overnight at a rest stop. Virginia was beautiful and each day that I journied further north it got colder and whiter...more snow!

The next stop was Long Island, NY. I stayed there 2 days with a friend. He refused to let me pay for anything so that was helpful also.

The last step was to go to CT. I needed a motel that was affordable but pet friendly. I almost gave up hope as several of them didn't have trailer parking, even for my little 5x8 because of the snow. Finally I found one with parking and settled in and paid for 2 weeks there.

Our room is pretty nice. I wish it had a microwave..but thankfully if worse comes to worse I have my sister and her roommates 30 minutes away. I've gone there to enjoy socializing and eating.

I explored the town a little bit today. People told me I wouldn't be able to get around here ok with a trailer but I have managed just fine. I also haven't felt unsafe. Of course my trailer is bolt locked..but the local police do their paperwork in the motel parking lot where I stay. I have seen more than 10 cops in 2 days so I feel pretty safe.