“This is wearing me out.” – Gabe Cordell
Fiction. Based on a True Nearly Homeless Experience.
By Suzanna T.
This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.
Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255
On Monday, the authorities condemned your house. They said to you that the owner/contractor whom you filed suit against had disappeared along with all the money you’d given him, and all the money you’d spent repairing a house that needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. They said that he should never have rented it to you in the first place. All in all, there was nothing that they could do, nothing that you could do. And, oh yeah, you had a week to vacate the premises, safety reasons.
On Tuesday, you went to work and tried to act natural. You promised yourself that you wouldn’t stress or think about being homeless again. Then the Caucasian chick tossed that word “nigga” around because somewhere, someone told her that it was cool and that she could say it. You blamed rap music, you blamed pop culture, you blamed old fashioned racism, and you blamed your people for making the use of the word an ongoing tradition. Mostly, you blame yourself for not stepping up and telling the world that it’s not okay. Knowing your destiny, you beat yourself up for being too shy, too afraid to go after it. Before the end of the day, your boss had to stop you from murdering the printer for having a monster paper jam.
On Wednesday, before picking the kids up from school, you paced back and forth from one side of the house to the other. From one dead end to the next, you walked away from the urge to commit suicide. When the kids got home, you made muffins, paired them with a few spoons of peanut butter, and asked them to drink all their milk because there wasn’t any food left in the house. That evening, their father came over after work with food for the next day or so and take out. You sat at the table and watched him talk nonchalantly about everything while looking like he could drop out of the bar stool and onto the floor at any given time. He was tired. You admired his ability to smile through it all.
You got up from the table, took his hand and led him to the bedroom. You laid down and asked him for two minutes. He took off his shirt, not to be sexy but to let his beer belly breathe. He laid down beside you. You curled up on his chest like a baby and tried not to feel pathetic for doing so. You ended up feeling pathetic after all because those two minutes of bonding turned into an argument. Slowly, death came creeping back into your head.
As he readied himself to leave, he kissed your forehead. “I know we not supposed to be together no more, but you and the kids always welcome at my house.” Well, there’s one place you could go. You weren’t so homeless after all. You prayed that you would live till morning and not die of a broken heart. You lived.
On Thursday, it was supposed to rain, but it didn’t. The air was warm, the sun was shining, and the birds sang their songs of springtime bliss. You fixed yourself a cup of coffee and sat on the porch of your condemned home. You took it all in; the sound of the wind playing through the leaves, the laughter of your children who seemed to be having the time of their lives swinging on an old rope that had once held a tire swing. You hadn’t felt peace in a long time, but this was peaceful. Still, you were afraid to spend the night alone. You went to his house because he said that you were welcome. You felt energized and wanted to play. But sometimes you play too much. Instead of your energy exciting him, he became angry. Your night ended with an argument. You ignored what he was saying, determined not to let the evil thoughts return. You prayed for a home of your own and went to sleep.
Friday came. On the way to work you helped a turtle cross a busy street. You’ve had a soft spot for turtles ever since you ran over one by accident. The sound of its shell cracking under pressure is a sound you’ll never forget, and never forgive yourself for. You smiled at the turtle and flipped off a motorist who blew their horn screaming for you to get the fuck out of the way. All the excitement had you full of adrenaline. You got through the day feeling powerful, and hopeful for your future. On top of your little adventure, it was payday, so you were in an especially good mood. After work you said goodbye to your house, packed the kids and everything you could into the Ford F150. You reached for the check that you’d stuffed in your back pocket, and found it wasn’t there. You looked in your purse, your wallet, under the car seats. Not there.
You went back into the house that you’d just said good-bye to and looked. And looked. And looked for hours. It was nowhere. Gone was the money for daycare so that you could go back to work. Gone was the money for the remainder of a $1400 light bill that you’d paid down to 158 dollars and 39 cents. Gone was the money to begin saving for the down payment on another house so that you wouldn’t be homeless.
With your head hung low you got back in the car and drove to your mother’s house where the rest of your family had come for a visit. As everyone sat down to eat, you tried to force down the food and act natural. But you couldn’t; because nothing about this was natural. You excused yourself from the dinner table. When you did not return, they searched the house to find you in the back room sitting on the bed, with both hands over your weeping eyes, and your shoulders hung so low that they nearly lay in your lap. That’s when you felt it, their arms around you. Mom, Dad, sisters, nieces, nephews, and your kids were all lifting you in love and prayers. And you realized that you weren’t so homeless after all.