Several years ago, in my early twenties, I was literally within weeks of being homeless. My car was dead, I was unemployed and almost out of benefits, had been eating rice and ramen for almost 6 months, and I was being evicted from my apartment because they were raising the rent by over $100 a month (30% more). I was literally less than a month from losing everything I had. The "public assistance" stuff at that time was only available to women with kids, not able-bodied students.

I got lucky - I found a (temp) job I could get to by transit, and another apartment that I could (just barely) afford. I moved on the last weekend before the end of my notice. All during this time I had no medical insurance, of course, so even when I trashed my ankle a few months later, I just ace bandaged it, stayed home from work for two days (unpaid) and took lots of ibuprofen.

But I will never forget, staring into a dingy bathroom mirror on a soon to be overpriced slum apartment (complete with roaches), telling myself I would never let myself get that desperate again. I already had too many men catcalling me on the streets, following me home from the bus, etc - how the fuck would I survive without even a car to lock myself into? How would I cook, what could I eat or drink?

Ever since then, I've always had a few months of food "in case". I've always tried to keep a car that I could sleep in, if I had to. I always had "camping gear" available, ready to hand. I've always had a plan B, plan C, and plan D, and fret if I don't.

I always will.

I wasn't raised a few weeks away from homelessness. I was middle class, professional parents, etc.

But that was before Ronald Reagan was president, and the shredding of the safety net.

So every time someone shits on the homeless, I take it personally. That could have been me, but for a lucky call from a temp agency. The only difference, in a lot of cases, is that they never got that lucky call.

Two of my roommates were homeless before they moved in with me. Both veterans.

I don't go on marches and all of that. But my friends know that if they're a bit short on food, if I've got something they can use to eat, it's theirs for the asking. If someone needs a couple months crash, if I've got room, they can have a roof for a while, but not necessarily forever.

I will not vote for a Republican who is heir to anything resembling Reagan's "legacy".

No matter how much I make, no matter how high I rise, a part of me will always be a terrified twenty-something looking at living on the street with nothing.

Always.
.

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ravan: by Ravan (Default)
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