It probably sounds to you that I am holding a lot of resentment and bitterness toward my friends. I won’t deny that I am. You would too, and I guarantee that. If, after 7 months, you’re still out there and most of your friends have not even checked up on you, believe me, you’d be pissed off too.
But, I must give credit where credit is due. I must acknowledge the very few people that did go out on a big limb and help me in profound ways. There are six, in chronological order:
Isabel O./Burbank: She gave me her old truck the day I was leaving my shop. My brand new Scion had just been repossessed and I was terrified about how I was gonna get around and where I would sleep. When I was packing up my shop, I knew I was going to be homeless, and my only comfort was that I could sleep in my Scion if it came down to it (which it did very quickly). The night they came and took the Scion, I was just stunned. I was only two months behind. Isabel donated her truck, and without it I would have immediately ended up in a shelter.
Alex S./Burbank: My Austrian musician friend who I allowed to stay with me on three occasions, and who I never asked one thing from in exchange. The same one who ate every stitch of food, left the house a mess, and criticized every move I made. He offered me a place to stay because he felt guilty. He also made it very clear that he wasn’t happy about it, and that I had very limited time in which to turn my whole life around (with no location to conduct business, thus, no income). He was very adamant about reminding me daily just how unwelcome I was, so I left without saying goodbye and fuck you very much.
John B./Lancaster: A former photography client, who I hadn’t spoken to in years, contacted me out of the blue and asked how I was. I told him what happened, and he immediately offered me a place to stay at his house in Lancaster. I had been sleeping in the truck for more than a week by then, so I was hungry as hell and dying to take a shower. I didn’t care that Lancaster was like New Jack City, except in the desert. I didn’t care that it was a ghetto and everyone walked around like zombies. I didn’t care that it looked like a third-world country and the little houses had blankets in the windows instead of glass. All I cared about was getting into that promised private bedroom that had internet. What took me by utter surprise was the living conditions. He’s a hoarder, and I’ll leave it at that. My room was clean, and that’s all that mattered. He immediately went grocery shopping and bought tons of food. He was very good to me, and I’ll always be thankful. I stayed as long as I could stand being in such a depressing town, and then I had to move on. A couple weeks in Lancaster is enough for this kid.
Rick T./Ventura: my best friend of 33 years. He didn’t know I was homeless because I didn’t tell him. He’s one of the people who was sick of my shit because I was bad about returning his calls, and he eventually gave up on trying to reach me. My fault, 100%. I avoided talking to him because I’ve never been able to lie to him. I just didn’t want him to know what was happening in my life, because I was so ashamed of my failure. Anyway, he called me when I was still in Lancaster, and I told him everything. He offered me his couch, with the warning that the place was very small. He has this great little place right next to the beach. It was such a lovely change from the ghetto in the desert. I could literally hear the waves crashing against the rocks all day and night, and the smell of saltwater was very comforting. It’s a beach town, and all their street signs have dolphins or fish on them. It was great at first, and then the size of the place started to creep in. It was evident that my poor friend was feeling very crowded and invaded, so I left there after about a week. He was good to me and I love him dearly, but I couldn’t continue to intrude on his very organized routines 🙂 Of all the places I’ve been over these crazy months, this is the only one that I miss.
Dennis T./Hemet: Dennis is one of my cross-dresser clients, and has been a client and friend for years. He offered me to come and stay with he and his family in Hemet, which is about 30 miles outside of Palm Springs. I was very hesitant to stay there, because I knew it was a family. I’m an introvert, and I’ve lived alone for many years. Being around people constantly creates great anxiety for me. I could deal with the previous situations before, barely, because they were all with a single individual. But this would be very stressful for me, because there were five other people in the house. Dennis and his wife have three daughters, one of whom is recovering from stroke and Leukemia. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Dennis would take off out of town immediately for work, leaving me to care for the whole family. After a couple days, it dawned on me that the only reason I was invited to stay was so I could be their driver, maid and cook. It was OK with me, though, because I wanted to earn my keep and keep the scales balanced. I worked my tail off, driving all day every day, shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning. It was hard work, and I had no time to myself, or privacy. Beggars can’t be choosers. I was there for about a month, which was the longest I stayed anywhere.
Michelle S./ Santa Maria: After leaving Hemet, I went straight to Denver to do SPFX makeup on a horror movie (that’s a whole other entry to be posted later). I got called out to location in mid-April, and took my time getting there. I stopped a lot along the way, and still arrived early in Denver for pre-production. I’ll skip over that whole two months, because it should be written as a separate experience. I was at a seedy motel in Barstow when Michelle offered to let me stay at her place. I was just about out of money from the movie when she called me, and I was desperate but hesitant, and I need to be clear about why. I didn’t want to stay with her because I didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship in the same way as the others. When you are in a desperate situation like mine, and one of your friends takes you in, you are immediately in a submissive position. They are now in control of your life, and I have a very hard time with that. Every other place I stayed came with its own set of rules, which is fine and understandable. However, its very hard for someone like me. I’m 48 years old and have lived alone for the last 15 of them. I have enjoyed complete freedom in that time, and suffice it to say, I have great difficulty adjusting to other people’s schedules and routines. But I accepted, because my poor cat and I were so road-weary, and anxious to recharge our “spiritual batteries.” Michelle lives in a nice home with two other roommates, so I stay in the garage. I try to stay out of everyone’s way, but I do cook for them quite often and hope that it makes up for my presence. I do have privacy, but now I have no transportation. My truck finally gave out a few days ago, and I’m trapped up here with no other options. But I’m lucky in that Michelle gives me a lot of space and doesn’t get all hurt when I don’t feel like being social. I need to use this precious time to find a solution to this enormous problem of being homeless, and try to figure out a way to get my business going again. I thank God every day to have this garage and this laptop, because without them, I would surely be dead in the water.
So I have to thank the people that have helped, instead of focusing (and dwelling) on the ones who won’t/didn’t. If it ever happens to you, you must be very careful not to allow those thoughts to sneak in, because they will turn you into a bitter and resentful person. You cannot blame your situation on anyone, but it is OK to acknowledge people who turn their backs on you. It’s not healthy to be in denial of reality, but you can’t dwell on it either. Some people are just selfish assholes who care about you a lot less than you thought they did. All you can do is continue working on yourself and become the best person you can be. You can’t let that pain and disappointment get the best of you. I will find my way back somehow, and when I do, I will go out of my way to do something big for each of these friends 🙂