I have a friend who is between jobs. I have a friend who is between cars. I have a friend who is between relationships, who is between a rock and a hard place and who is between seasons of Downton Abbey. (I should point out that I am referring to several friends, not just one highly unfortunate friend.) Because of our family split situation, I happen to be between homes.
We moved out of our house at the end of July and put some of our things in a friend’s garage. We put some things into another friend’s storage unit. Other things went to my dad’s house. Of course, we also gave a lot of things away such as 30 boxes, yes I said boxes, of my books. (The fact that I am storing another 20 boxes of them is, I feel, irrelevant. 😉 ). I have a good job. I wear decent clothes. I have a functional car. However, I do not have any money to speak of. Maintaining a dual income lifestyle with a single income while you go through a marital separation during your son’s senior year of high school simply does that. And, securing a rental when you have entirely depleted your savings account is slightly problematic.
My friends are appalled that I am homeless; however, I am not homeless. Not really. After all, I have had a bed to sleep in every single night. I stayed with my dad and stepmom for a couple of weeks. I dog-sat for a week. I went back to my dad’s for a night and then moved into another friend’s home to house-sit for a week. Now, I am back at my dad’s. It’s quite lovely, actually. They have a largish property in the country with a huge garden and a sprinkling of wooded areas with benches meant for reading and thinking. My son and I each have our own room. There is a jacuzzi in the bathroom and a wine cellar in the basement. In fact, my dad makes wine so there is quite a bit of it. The only real problem with staying here is that it now takes me between 2 and 3 hours to get to work depending on whether or not there are any car accidents stopping up traffic along the way. Of course the drive gets tedious and I get frustrated at times. I am not thrilled that I have put nearly 7,000 miles on my car since becoming between homes. I am definitely not thrilled that I have to fill the gas tank every 2 days.
But, this time in the car is not all bad. This time in the car is time that I have alone with my 18-year-old son who I drop off at his job along the way. We get to have 3 – 5 hours of conversation every single work day and, I am more than okay with that. This time in the car is time where I am forced to simply sit. It is acceptable for me to enjoy the radio, audiobooks and simple conversation. I am not obligated, during this time, to clean, do laundry, wash dishes, garden, cook, volunteer, or be distracted by things in life that truly don’t matter all that much. This time in the car is time that I have to think, to dream, to plan, to hope, to pray. And, I have come to discover, I am not the only one who finds good things in living this admittedly crazy and insane lifestyle.
A colleague admitted to me that her adult daughter has been homeless in New York City for the past 5 years. By choice. She does not stand on the corner with a cardboard sign in her hands. In fact, she has a full time job where she earns a significant salary. Yet, she spends her evenings and weekends pet sitting for executives on business trips and house sitting for those who fly to Arizona or Texas or Florida in the winter months. She takes on nanny jobs for teens who can manage on their own during the day but cannot be left alone at night while their parents work evenings or travel. She takes on personal care assistant jobs, spending the evening with the elderly or disabled. And, she loves it. She does not consider herself homeless. She, too, is simply living in between.
I know this lifestyle can be scary. I know this lifestyle is stressful. I know this lifestyle isn’t for most people and I don’t think this lifestyle is a long-term option for me. However, I am not upset about the season I am in. I had a marriage. I had a home. I had an illusion of the perfect suburban family. Now, I am living a life that is very different, very raw, very real. But, I am not alone. I am not homeless. I am not hopeless. I am simply living in between.