I was setting in the office with a co-worker and a friend catching up on business, life, and everything in between. In the past year, she’s watched what can only be called the evolution of my homelessness. I somehow went from being a proud owner of two homes, to being a proud owner of two homes in another town and with no place call mine. But, in the midst of the chaos, I was never really without a home, even if it wasn’t my own.
A little over a year ago, I decided to resign my job with really no place to go. Although, I’ve always been impulsive in day to day life, that part of me has been balanced by a healthy dose of responsibility and hard work. And, in that moment those two things seemed to be a distant thought. I found myself jobless, homeless, and directionless.
But, then a crazy thing happened. Within a few weeks, I had a few job opportunities. One was close to my hometown where my family was, with good pay, and well, it probably would have been easy. The second was a grassroot non-profit, that was an hour away, was part-time, but was full of creative possibility. Now, my two sides were in conflict. Who would win out: the impulsive, optimist or the responsible, realist? In the end, the possibility and excitement won out.
But, there was still the dilemma of income, housing, travel…
That’s where the humans come in! Starting with my generous sister, I began a journey of moving from one place to another. My sis graciously decided to house all of my household belongings, including my expansive shoe collection, about a million pieces of furniture, and a book collection that would rival any library. She also decided to house me and found myself living the life of a commuter driving to the city several days a week. (She still graciously agrees to house my things, although if you ask her the lines between where her things and mine have started to blend together).
As the work load and business increased, I found myself driving more days than not. Maybe the exhaustion showed on my face, or the crankiness appeared in my tone, regardless, as I was going to an evening class, a lady from church asked if I would like to stay in her basement. Now, I was able to have a small haven in the city when I was there. As K welcomed me into her home, we spent many times talking late into the night about family, friends, and often theology. I would often wake up in the mornings to a cup of coffee to go and suddenly found myself addicted to Biggest Loser. Eventually, family things came up and I found myself commuting again.
But, before I knew it another family from church offered their home. For a week, their five year old gave up his bed in the basement for me. The few nights I stayed with them, I went to bed with their two year old tucking me in and making sure I was ok. And, one precious moment, I woke up to Z (the five year old) looking at me from the loft above. When he saw I was awake, he smiled and said, “you can have my bed if you want it. I think you need it more than I do.”
A few weeks later, I found myself at L & J’s apartment in the heart of St. Louis. L and I stuck our heads out the window and instantly I fell in love with the city I now get to work in and call home. Staying there was like a vacation and it came at a perfect time. I felt completely out of control (remember that responsible side, well it likes control) and there home made the chaos fade away. L and I would listen to Bob Marley and the Beatles after work, we looked at cultural magazines, and made sushi. Dinner consisted of discussions on this journey called life and each morning they had breakfast waiting on me.
Then, another L took me in. The amazing thing is she didn’t even know me. Once people heard about my homeless plight, they sent out emails to all their friends. L heard about what The Covering House and my situation from a friend. Simply out of kindness, she offered her home. Our nights often consisted of talking about horror dates and watching the Cardinal games. She also had the creative, baking side that often benefited this chocalate lover.
And, now I find myself moving to my fifth home in a year. This one is a little more permanent (fingers crossed). But, again I find myself blessed with the kindness of a stranger opening her home to me. I received a phone call telling me she was purchasing new furniture for me, she’s being flexible, and tolerates my crazy work schedule.
As I relayed this newest roommate to my co-worker, she looked at me and said, “You’ve had alot of luck with humans.” And, she’s right. I’m grateful everyday for my journey this past year. It’s taught me to live simplistic. It’s shown me the kindness in people. It’s given me new experiences. But, most importantly it has shown me that this journey is as much about the people we encounter as the experiences we have.