Posted by: Erica | February 25, 2010

Homelessness

Monday night, Martin and I came home and discovered an eviction notice in the mail.  We have been paying outrageous electric bills ($1600 for the last two months) due to a malfunctioning heating unit.  Martin recently asked to be compensated for some of the cost and this, apparently, is their reply.  We must be out by March 31st.  Reading those words induced a strange feeling.  Suddenly I realized I was standing in a place where I was unwelcome.  The natural instinct is to remove yourself and retreat to a place where you are, but we just stood there facing the reality that we don’t have any other place to go. 

It has been a stressful relationship with the property managers this whole year, and honestly, I’d be glad to walk away from the situation at this point if it wasn’t for two things:  1) moving requires so much energy and it is taking about all I have these days just to get out of bed in the morning.  2)  we are not having much luck finding another rental property.  You see, even though the D.C. area is vast and sprawling, it is also a very confining environment because of how populated it is.  You are limited to certain locations by how long it would take you to get to work.  The other night it took me over an hour to drive 20 miles.  So, take those prospects and narrow the field by which neighborhoods are safe.  Take those and narrow by which properties we can afford.  And then those prospects are reduced by space and whether or not pets are allowed.  Would anyone like a dog or two?

I tend to be a worrier, so I have learned that my level of panic is not always a good indication of how serious a situation actually is.  A better one, I’ve found, is how early Martin gets out of bed in the morning.  That night I don’t think he slept at all.  A side effect of emotional pain is how it becomes physical.  You lose the ability to sleep, your muscles ache,  etc.  These things combined with your anxiety soon render you disabled.  We come home and make ourselves TV zombies to cope.  I’m terribly behind with household tasks and neither of us have cooked in a while.  Not that it matters; my body has been rejecting any form of food or drink for the past two weeks.  Today I’m trying a diet of dry cereal, applesauce, and green tea–we’ll see how that goes. 

It has me thinking about the homeless people living on streets, in shelters, in cars.  The vagrant.  The displaced.  I’ve always had a soft heart for these people, but have also let myself off the hook with the ideas that  “they should just get a job…they must have done something to deserve it.”  In my present situation, I am heartbroken at the reality of just how hard their struggle must be.  In truth, we are all one perfect storm of misfortune away from being in their place.  And once there, the uncertainty of meeting basic needs can pull you the rest of the way under. 

The other night I was folding socks and noticed that some of Martin’s are stained with the blue paint that we used on our master bedroom walls back in Illinois.  We all miss that house.  Last night as I was tucking Ansley into bed, I decided to start preparing her for another move.  “We’re going to start looking to see if we can find a better house to live in.”  She rolled away for a second and then looked back up at me and asked, “Who’s in the one we just came from?”  I should have appreciated it more than I did; I wanted a better space for entertaining–ha!  Whoever penned the words “your home is your castle” wasn’t talking about architecture.  It is your safe place, your security, your foothold in this world.  When your lose those things, it doesn’t matter if you have a roof over your head, you become homeless.

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