Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On Being Homeless

Let me be clear: I know most certainly that my situation is very different from someone who literally has no roof over his head. But I have no home of my own right now. And this experience is giving me a good opportunity to reflect on what home is and how important it is.

I went away to college at age 17 and have had my own home since. Yes, I've had a couple roommates and a couple husbands. But I had a home -- it was mine or ours.

Now, I don't. In October Frank and I decided it was time to give up the apartment in Houston preparatory to our final move to South Carolina. So I packed up our stuff and called the movers. We also had a bunch of stuff in storage -- 1000 cubic feet of paraphernalia that had been in storage since we'd arrived in Houston in early 2007. The movers transported everything to storage in South Carolina. All I kept was clothes, my laptop and a few things, and all of it fit into my car.

I then moved into a room offered to me by a kind acquaintance in Houston. John and his dogs, Quincy and Nikon, were gracious hosts. I had a room, a bathroom and access to the U-Verse and broadband. It was affordable; my hosts were tolerant, kind and funny.

A week or so after Frank's death my in-laws and I decided I should find somewhere to live while I finished work on the house. I needed to be closer to the house, and I think they found me a constant reminder of the son they'd lost. I will never forget how kind and generous they were to me in the weeks after we lost Frank -- and they continue to treat me the same way.

Now, Newberry, South Carolina is not a metropolis with unlimited housing opportunities. I went on Craig's List and found a single possibility -- a room for rent in a house. I came to visit and took the place on the spot. It's in a quiet neighborhood, the woman who owns the house isn't here much, it's affordable, it has DSL -- really it's just what I need right now.

But it's not mine. Being here is forcing me to plan ahead to the time when I can move in to the new house. Remember, I have stuff that's been in storage for 3 years, all of Frank's stuff -- as I unpack I'll be getting rid of lots. I think I'll be pretty darned careful about what I have in the house (Is it useful? Is it beautiful?).

And I know that my few months of "homelessness" will make me very, very grateful when I'm back in my own home.

No comments: