“You realize you are technically homeless by choice”, the text message comes in from a good friend. She is facing the end of a job and housing contract. She, too, is facing being unemployed and homeless. “Yup”, I text back. I am homeless by choice.
I don’t feel homeless. I don’t look homeless. At least not the stereotypical homeless person, who is wearing dirty clothes that do not fit, ragged hair with an old backpack or shopping cart. No cardboard box here. OK, sometimes my clothes do not exactly represent an outfit per say, and sometimes my hair is out of whack, but my eyes are bright, my walk confident, my demeanor usually pleasant. I am fed and generally rested. I do not fit the stereotype.
When I was planning this adventure, the thing that sent my anxiety skyrocketing, that shortened my breath and tightened my chest was the thought of being without a home. Being homeless. Not having a place to come back to. I have none of that anxiety, no shortness of breath, no tight chest. I know full well that my things are in storage or in the Jeep or strewn about the tent. OK, I challenge myself, stop and really listen. You are homeless. How does that feel? Any stress reaction? Tension?
It feels fine. No anxiety, no tight chest, no shortness of breath. My feet are a little cold at present, but tomorrow looks like a wonderfully warm spring day. I feel safe, I feel secure, I feel grounded. I feel relaxed and calm. I do not feel vulnerable, scared, or on shaky ground. I feel just fine.
This concept of not having a home would send my into a tizzy with worry, would cause me to feel like I was floating out of my body in fear. That fear was nearly paralyzing. Here, today, in this tent, on my adventure, I feel none of that. Yes, I feel the cold and that has been a thing. I do not feel lost or adrift or without place. I feel quite in place, thank you.
Perhaps it is knowing that I am not currently seeking a home. I do not feel “without” and I do not feel like I “have to have” a home. I feel like I have a home and it suits me just fine for the moment. I do not feel slighted or lacking. I do not feel like I need to acquire or go out and get. I feel like I have. Maybe that is part of this concept of being “homeless”. When a person wants, but does not have a home, then one is perhaps homeless. But, when one does not want and does not have a home, are they then not satisfied? Is the goal then achieved? Intentionally homeless.
I am sure some people, even street people, are homeless by choice. This is my choice. I worked hard, sacrificed, lived my life strapped to an emotional roller coaster, and arranged everything so that this can happen. Not owning a home is liberating. Well, not owning a stick house anyway. I am looking at my home, with its bright orange cover and my belongings inside. Where my chair sits with my blanket, my bed and my clean clothes. My books and my journals. That IS my home and I am OK with that. This is what I wanted and this is what I got.
I know the thought of being unemployed and homeless sends my texting friend into a stress fit. Well, sure, it would have done the same to me, too, when that is not what I wanted. I mean, she did not plan for it like I did, she has not arranged her whole life so that she could live that way. I am not quite sure what her plan is and I will be praying for her safety and security during the coming months. She is feeling the anxiety of pending homelessness and unemployment NOT by choice.
Me? No anxiety. None that I can find. Ok, maybe I am in denial. Yeah, that’s it. I am denying that I am homeless and that I have anxiety about it. Let me think on that a while. Nope, still no anxiety. In fact, I have been looking ahead at my next place to play and I think I found a fun looking former military fort just south of here that I can explore and camp and hike around. After that, I really need to get my ass back into BJJ training.
I even splurged today and spent money. The weather was crappy as it vacillated between rain, hail, sun, and all day it has been windy as shit. I started at the library to get some web site stuff done. I decided to make the 10 mile drive over to a little bigger town to see about book and thrift stores. While I was considering that I was also thinking – what makes me happy? If I was on one of my previous vacations, what would I seek out to do or see? Sure, I like a good bookstore, but what places give me joy and make me feel at home? BREWERIES! I hit three of them. One was great, one mediocre, and one sucked. I mean, the beer was horrible. The beer was so bad that I did not even finish my sample tray. I used the excuse that I had to watch my drinking as I was driving. Yes, I walked away from beer, it was that bad. Life is too short for bad beer.
I decided that this journey is about what makes me happy and if I cannot find a downtown to walk around in, or stores to explore, than beer it is because I love beer and all things about making and drinking beer. Of course, I found some camaraderie and did some chatting. That is always fun. I paid way too much for bad food and have to remember to be more discerning about what I eat. I cannot really have leftovers and I ended up eating a whole pizza, which was not that good despite someone saying the place made good pizza. The crust was not fresh and they were stingy with the toppings. Now I am bloated and feel too full. Lesson learned.
Yes, I am trying to watch my dollars. Yes, I am aware that I have no regular income. Yes, I know that I am living outside (see other post) and yes, I know I am homeless. No, I do not feel at risk. No, I do not feel vulnerable or anxious. Yes, I do feel a little chilly, but not like in the rainforest! I feel calm, at peace, excited. My chest is not tight, my breathing is fine. Nope, nothing to indicate I am worried. I had quite the productive day, now that you mention it. After breakfast and chores, I stopped at a winery to look around and decided that was not for me. I stopped at a little park and walked to the beach. The wind was whipping and the tide was out so the beach was gigantic and it mesmerizes me, so I had to walk out into the mud and explore and face the wind and just take it all in. There were elk tracks out in the sand. I am sure they were elk and not deer as they were big, but maybe they were deer. I saw three bald eagles flying around over head. I visited three breweries and, while they were not all great, it still made me happy. Sure, the alcohol in the beer helps, but I like beer and all things about beer and it is always fun to taste different things, even when they suck. At least now I know.
Here I am, homeless and unemployed. Here I am, content and happy and rested and excited and at peace. Here I am.
Who would have thought.