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Ever Been Homeless?

18 Jun

As I sat here relaxing in front of my computer tonight I began to wonder what I would blog about (or even if I should). After all, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time off now and then … but just at that moment a bulletin from Liles, a musician here in Dallas, caught my eye.

Dear Jeff,

I’m about to get evicted and have to go live under a bridge somewhere…

I wonder how many people you know in California who have some land I could perhaps live on? I’m not necessarily looking for a freebie, but the truth is, in California my handout is about $870 a month, in any other part of the country its going to be about 2-300 bucks less, and I just cant afford to pay my entire income, just to put a roof over my head…

I do have a trailer that I live in now, but i don’t drive or have a vehicle, and I really don’t want to have to go back to being homeless…..

If you can think of anyone, anywhere who might be able to accommodate me and my dog, then please do get in touch! I will also need someone to be a caregiver (i.e.. do physical things, take me shopping, carry stuff indoors, make my bed, etc.) who will be paid a pittance by whichever state I end up in… so I ask you again, got any ideas?

I’m just asking everyone I used to know, and the few people i do know, if they have any possible solutions to my impending dilemma….once this place gets sold, I’ll have 30 days to find someplace… this could happen tomorrow, next week, next month, i just don’t know when, but it will happen, so if you really want/can help, then RSVP, ASAP…

Cheers,
Ray



From Liles: Ray was a very key piece to the Theatre Gallery, the live music venue in Dallas that helped to revitalize the Deep Ellum neighborhood. We need to help him out if we possibly can. If you can do anything to help him, let me know. I would really appreciate it.
Thank you, JL

Not many people know this but about a year after I left my ex, I found myself living out of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Cherokees aren’t as small as the CJ-5’s but still, they weren’t made for “living out of.”

My circumstances were perhaps a bit different than your average “street person” but in some respects, very much the same I believe. I had fallen into a deep depression at that point in my life and I think many if not the vast majority of the homeless are experiencing a depression of one kind or another.

I felt like a loser, having been informed eleven months earlier I’d been infected with the HIV virus by Greg, my ex (and my finances were pretty much nonexistent).

I’d gone from having had a 12-year professional career as a training specialist with EDS (at the time I’d met Greg) to leaving EDS in order to build up a business with him. Our business was very successful; we hit profits in the seven figures before it all went to shit but when it fell apart … it FELL apart!

Were there things I could have done differently? Yes. Were there things I should have done but failed to? Most assuredly! Do I believe I was mentally strong enough at that time in my life to take the necessary steps to avoid the hazards yet to come? No, I was in no shape to do anything differently than what I did then β€” at that time. I was struggling to keep the will to stay alive by that point and I was barely winning that fight. I had already started out to end my life during the summer three years prior – but for the saving grace of my love for my family I managed to find the will to turn off the ignition that day. (After which I cried uncontrollably, wondering how in the hell I was going to get through the next twelve months if I were already seriously considering suicide.)

Let me explain some of what was going on in my life then. By the time I gave up on my 6.5 year relationship; by the time I walked away the: (1) IRS was hounding me for $20,000.00 in back taxes because of a tax deposit Greg was supposed to have “made” which they couldn’t find any record of, (2) I had over $20,000.00 in credit card debt, (3) both my physical health and self-esteem were greatly compromised, (4) I felt like a failure whereas relationships were concerned (I sometimes still do), (5) I’d lost touch with most of my pre-existing friends (of my own choosing while Greg and I were together, mostly because of his controlling behavior in front of my friends and how embarrassing that behavior was for me), (6) I was making payments on a three year old vehicle I’d previously paid cash for because I was talked into taking out a loan “for the business” using the jeep as collateral, (7) I had lost my best friend and [canine] companion a year earlier when her own health gave out and she had to be put to sleep (we had been together sixteen years), and (8) (to reiterate) I had fallen into a VERY deep depression.

Life was just ducky! πŸ˜‰ {/sarcasm}

β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’

I’d been staying with one set of friends or another while attempting to work out the details of my newly single life, trying to get back on my feet. However, sometimes pride will allow us to barter on the good will of friends for only so much time. On February 1st of 2002, I put the balance of my belongings in storage and kept with me only what I needed in the way of clothes, toiletry items and some writing materials. Those things I kept with me in the jeep. I had begun working with a temp agency and after work each day I would drive somewhere to get a bite to eat and find a quiet place where I might be able to park for the night. I lay down in the back for the evening and got what rest I could (when you’re that exhausted it was easier than you might think). The weather in Texas had turned hot so I’d crack the windows open. Some evenings I would drive out to the nearest State Park, pay for a campsite and stay there overnight to avoid the police as well as to be able to take a nice long hot shower there in the public restroom. On the balance of those nights I would set an alarm to wake up early so that I could get into the office before everybody else, so that I could quickly shave and clean up for the day to come.

The weather continued to grow hotter and hotter. I eventually would (occasionally) check in to a low-budget hotel/motel for the reprieve of air-conditioning and cable television.

And approximately eight months after I’d begun living out of the car I [finally] checked in to an “Extended Stay” (InTown Suites). I had a bed, a table with two chairs, a kitchenette and a bathroom with a shower stall. It was great! UNTIL!…

β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’

Soon after I’d begun staying at the extended stay my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and I began traveling back to New Mexico to see my family every third week or so. I needed to spend time with Dad; his health was getting worse and it would only be a matter of time before he would pass away. One weekend I was returning from New Mexico and on approach to InTown Suites I saw what appeared to be my ex and I’s motor home parked in the lot there at InTown Suites. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT! That son-of-a-bitch had the nerve to not only make my life miserable while we were together but now here he was β€” again? To say I was angry would be an understatement of indescribable proportions.

I spoke to the hotel manager the following morning and explained the circumstances. She and I had a good repertoire and I found her attitude to be very sympathetic toward me. She expressed that she wished I’d told her all of this before. I explained that I just wanted that part of my life behind me and had been intentionally choosing not to talk about it whenever possible.

So. One week to the day after I had discovered he was staying at the same extended stay I moved myself into this apartment where I continue to live today. I’m doing much better. My health, though not the same as prior to that fateful day in October of 1994 (when Greg and I first met) is improved β€” and my state of mind is MUCH better! I work full time, make decent money, have friends and the IRS is dealt with. Life could be better but it ain’t bad (as they say).

WHY am I telling you all of this?

β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’

None of us expects to ever be without a roof over our head or food in our belly but the truth of the matter is that there are many more people in this country, today, who are closer to being homeless than one would imagine. It isn’t uncommon.

We send jobs overseas, paying people in third-world countries MUCH less than the minimum wage here in the U.S. (because we can and because it helps to make the companies who do so more profitable). Is doing so really such a great idea when we’re taking jobs away from our own and putting those people at risk of having to live on the street? Our economy is worsening by the day. The cost of living continues to rise while wages do not.

It can happen to anybody and God only knows how I would have turned my own life around if all of what I was going through had happened in THIS economy!

Whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for me please. I’m fine; I survived some of the darkest hours of my life. I know there are others among us who are not so fortunate.

β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’ β€’

By the way, some will argue those who are living on the street and/or pan-handling are doing so because they choose to (or that they are too lazy to pull their lives back together). I’m sure that is true of some; it stands to reason as there ARE lazy people in the world. There always have been. But not every person who finds him or herself in such circumstances “chooses” to be so afflicted.

And please don’t think I’m suggesting you make this your personal cross to bare; that you should go out and find a homeless person to take in, give money to or otherwise support. I’m not (and wouldn’t) ask anyone to do anything of the sort. I am asking that you be aware of what is going on around you. IF you see a street person nearby don’t immediately think he or she is simply too lazy to do anything about their own set of circumstances and “chooses” to be there. Don’t think badly of another human being just because they aren’t as fortunate as you or I. There may be a very REAL reason for why that person has found their way onto the street. I guess what I’m attempting to say is “don’t prejudge.” Don’t be gullible and allow yourself to be talked into doing something which might put your own life at risk of harm but don’t prejudge either.

And if you can raise the awareness of others to some of the problems we face in our communities today I encourage you to do so. Do some research relating to some of the causes in and around your community. You might be surprised by what you find.

Okay, that’s pretty much all I had to say (and I apologize for, once again, being so damned long-winded). πŸ˜‰

Peace, love and hugs – but most of all, peace…
Michael

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About The Author

52-years old and determined to sail through life with a smile (but sometimes brash as hell). LOL. Born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico but having lived more than half of my life in Texas. Raised with a strong faith in God but describe myself more as simply a faithful person rather than a Christian. (Too many people rely on their religious 'beliefs' as an excuse to maintain a closed mind rather than emulate the loving nature I believe Jesus Christ did represent.) Registered as a Democrat but fiscally I'm probably more likely to identify with the Republicans. Am equally disgusted with both parties at the moment and tired of the status quo in Washington, D.C. I'm a spiritualist who believes you should reach for your dreams and believes you can attain them, for the only thing that really stands between you and your goals ... is yourself. Favorite quote of recent is "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, the present is a 'present' (a gift)..." β€”Author unknown

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