The trial and mild inconvenience of being a privileged white male. The first in a series. I am experiencing homelessness.
Heading West on I-94, towards Chicago on a bus—not a Greyhound bus, so excuse the apoetic tones—brings me back home. Closer to home, anyway. My parent's home. One of the places I grew up, that sort f thing. Rainbows on the ceiling of the college-brand bus stamp outward in a swooped chevron gradient that reminisces with kitsch mariachi gas-station portraits of the Virgin Guadalupe. The felt is very dazzling. Damn pattern stares at back from the seat in front of me like someone slapped a Lite-Brite onto Guillermo Gomez Pena's mustache. I'd like to think he'd like that.
Avoidance forces eye-balls to dim and brains to start along that line of musty dusty memories that shouldn't be that dank or undisturbed, hence the whole avoidance thing.
So I'm avoiding the obvious question: Why are you without house and home, but still able to type up, post, and edit these texts about your homelessness? It doesn't seem authentically homeless. Perhaps it's disrespecting the status, not giving the term its due. Although there is probably someone on a pigeon-cluttered corner who could take a dollar in their plastic, clinking McDonald's cup as a fine for the artistic liberty.
A thousand dollars, that's how much it cost. Probably. The ASUS Ultrabook with a thirtysecondstartup from slick slice of aluminum to solid-state running machine was a gift from your father who is currently spending his springs in a Dutch resort drinking mango smoothies on the flour-textured beaches of Aruba. With his younger girlfriend. Did I say your?
Let's get rid of introductions. It starts with Abby, my girlfriend. No she didn’t kick me out. In fact she and I will be coming on a year of consistent tolerance of each other’s pizza toppings come April 28th, meaning that dating her for a year has made me vegetarian and I can no longer enjoy pepperoni. I’m assured that there is a meatless alternative.
April 28th was incorrect, it was yesterday, April 16th. Still managed to find a gift though: some pink tailors measuring tape from Meijer's. Over avocado sushi and moonstone razberry sake that tasted like NyQuil, I told her to wrap it around her neck and measure out the distance with two fingers for comfort.
It's cute 'cause it's for a necklace I plan on getting her. Handmade. Really tight fitting. We're into that sort of thing.
Abby is a about year older than me with a few months in my favor. She is a senior, which has allowed her to enjoy off-campus living from the wee, prestigious liberal arts college we both attend. Typically you aren’t allowed to leave until your senior year, as underclassman are encouraged to focus on college community, which tacitly allows upperclassman to follow the higher pursuits of illicit substance abuse and undisturbed sexual activity.
With such benefits, we started living together almost a month into our relationship. Not much discussion was needed. Quickly my dorm-room was abandoned to the roommate who gave his grumbled consent to the new living arrangement with something like a “I’ll be sure to have sex with my girlfriend with this gift you have given me.”
Access to the piles of stale, smoky clothing; moldy library of paperback Hermann Hesse novels; and iron, Finnish steamer trunks that comprised my material possessions, remained within my meager college dormroom holdings. Moving out is really easy when you can leave all your crap where you left it. But, due to student conduct laws and housing bullshit, I was required to continue paying the Department of Student Living three to four thousand dollars for what was effectively my now-ex roommates single room “masturbatorium.” That's what he called it, I promise. I wasn’t there so the accumulation of tissues and ransacking of thirty dollar Target bowl chairs didn't irk me that much. I got to live with my girlfriend while having a safe back-up plan that only needed a bit of bleach to be as good as new.
Until a few weeks ago. Though this ASUS laptop is a mighty gift indeed, luxury doesn’t come naturally to my divorced parents. With my mother and stepfather working to pay off my (twin) step-sister’s college bills, and a father prone to gallivanting across floral Caribbean beaches with his girlfriend, myself developing a sense of fiscal responsibility doesn’t seem too obtuse. Well, for me anyway. His girlfriend is, like, ten-years younger than him too.
It’s not pleasant. Thinking about money doesn’t produce hives but I’d like to think it agitates my self-diagnosed psoriasis. Or I hope that is psoriasis. Either way it creates the nervous gut-busting grumble of anxiousness and dependence on others when I realize I owe them.
So when thinking about my tuition bill, and pondering on why six to eight thousand dollars added to my student loans were being poured into someone else’s sex cave, it dawned on me like a TLC special that an easy way to save money would be to just move stuff out of the dorm space.
When the official opportunity came to uncheck student living from my tuition box, I took it.
Whoa there Zachary, that's a little abrupt. You moved out once, without all your stuff, then at an undisclosed time presumably close to a year later you did so again with your stuff. Moving in with your girlfriend isn't homelessness. You had a dorm room, you chose to give it up because of money.
But being a full time student, even with two part-time jobs, finding the money and time to apartment hunt was difficult, and the soonest one I could find was ready for move-in April 28th. That left me with a month of homelessness. That's what happens on April 28th, every now and then I need a reminder.
Here is this petite, auburn-haired stage director and blacksmith with the tendency to squeak like a woodland creature when tickled telling me that she wants me to live with her. Really live with her this time—no back-up plan, unmarried, and barely able to help out with utilities. No questions asked. Any conversation went mostly like: “Are you sure?” (because she knew what I was asking about), then “yes,” then “Are you sure?” (read those italics), then “yes.” Basically paying for my housing. Cook my meals. Comfort makes me uncomfortable. I owe her.
Admittedly staying with Abby is nice, but acquiescing living space to her other five housemates can be taxing. Not to say that they don’t deserve the space, they pay rent and all, but they bump into my vintage ‘80’d speakers and scoff at my collection of Beach Boys vinyl. One of them talks to their television all day with the volume maxed out, like has a conversation with the characters on screen, her inside voice just as declarative. You can hear her and Shaggy talking about Scooby snacks through the nimbus tones of Brian Wilson's “God Only Knows.” My stuff shouldn’t be there, in their home. I owe them.
No, I’m not technically homeless. I have loving, amiable, welcoming girlfriend and friends, too, who are allowing me in their home with no real escape plan. I’m stuck there. They know that and I know that, and it doesn’t seem to cause them to break out in various skin diseases but my fingers are itchy. Though Scooby-girl did yell at me for being disrespectful and “inconsiderate of others sounds and space” the other night. “Fuck you.” is what I want to say. My gums are bleeding, even though I bought that gingivitis fighting CrestMint to “help combat tartar build-up.” Ever notice that logos, catch phrases, all these products, their names are always forced together to make them sound more catchy? CrestMint, Mike&IKe. Monstrous. I am burden, and it doesn’t matter if I am light or heavy or catchy or easy or hard. I'm verbiage; dense, confusing, and without a point. I'm pretty sure that makes me heavy, but Abby's scale says I've been losing a pound or so a week. Better start with the protein shakes come the new apartment—my new-roommate has a hook-up with some calamine that he says will “make my boobs bigger in no time.”
If I want that independence: from finance, parents, school, people; albeit for only two weeks, I have to depend on her. I hope she moves in with me afterward—I can't cook and I don't have a bed-frame. She hasn’t kicked me out, and I haven’t snuck any pork-roast into her curries so hopefully that means we’re in the green in terms of relationship status, but I’m in her hands for another two weeks.
Next time I'll fly, and maybe an A-listers' hirsute style will be baring down on me from the in-flight commercials. Maybe that will make for a better story.