If you haven’t had the opportunity or inclination to read any of my other many blogs about being homeless, I will give you a quick briefing: I’m a 49 year-old white female, college -educated former business owner and artist. I became homeless a year ago, and my blog chronicles the adventure from the beginning up until now (I’m still homeless). I didn’t become homeless as a result of mental illness, drug-addiction, alcoholism, or domestic violence. I became homeless as a result of a declining economy, just like millions of other American small-business owners. You’d be shocked to find out how fast your life can and will unravel after only two months of little-to-no income. If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
Alex S. was a great friend at one time. He is an incredibly gifted musician and songwriter from Austria, who I met on Myspace of all places. He has self-published several full-length albums, recorded with dozens of big name artists, and has toured the world. We met on the now-defunct site by pure accident, and developed a fast friendship. I was absolutely obsessed with his music, and played it constantly while working on films and traveling. After daily communication for about 6 months (while I worked on a handful of independent films), he decided to visit Los Angeles and stay with me. I had a huge crush on him, so naturally I thought we would end up in some kind of relationship. I picked him up from the airport, and we enjoyed a few days of sight-seeing, wine and music. Eventually I made a move, of which he quickly rejected. I was hurt of course, but he handled the situation with class and great respect for my feelings. I shifted my attitude into “friend-mode,” and we got along just fine for the rest of his month-long visit.
Over the years that followed, we stayed in touch through several changes and relocations. I had moved to London and back, he had moved around Australia a few times, and eventually ended up moving to Los Angeles, right next door to me. He stayed with me again in my apartment while he looked for a place of his own, and we always enjoyed our time together as friends, and talking candidly about our life experiences. When I was preparing to check into the hospital for a major surgery, I asked him to watch over my place and my animals. I knew I would be immobilized for quite a while after the surgery (it was a mastectomy that would require removing a portion of my back muscle and reattaching it to my chest). That procedure would greatly effect the use of my right arm, and would require a long period of physical therapy. I knew this before the surgery, so I made sure I cleaned my home very thoroughly and did all my grocery shopping beforehand. The surgery went well, but I developed a few problems while I was still in the hospital, so I was kept there much longer than any of us had anticipated.
When I was released two weeks later, I was so anxious to return home to my own bed, and to be with my animals again. I was shocked when I returned home to discover that my trusty house-sitter has eaten every stitch of food I bought, and had left filthy mess behind for me to clean up. Needless to say, I was furious. He never once apologized, never replaced any of the groceries, never took an ounce of responsibility for it, and it greatly effected our friendship from that point forward. After a lot of reflection on our past friendship, I began to see him as someone who was not accountable for his own actions. Someone who was never wrong, and who never apologized, even after hurting others’ feelings (including mine), and criticizing and/or harshly judging others in situations he has no experience with. In other words, ZERO empathy.
Flashing forward to present tense: when Alex offered me a place to stay, I was truly amazed and shocked. Even though I knew it was only out of guilt that he was doing it, I still took him up on the offer because I had no other options. I moved into his guest bedroom with great trepidation, because I just knew we would butt heads. He was selfish and controlling toward me in my own house, so I could imagine how controlling he would be in his own house. Upon my moving in, he was VERY clear that this was a temporary arrangement, and he gave me about three weeks to move on. I was already feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome on the first day, and by the third day of his constant reminders of my “deadline,” I was desperate to move on. I stayed in that bedroom 24/7, on my computer looking for a way out. He and I had little contact, with the exception of a few times sitting in the backyard. He criticized every decision I made, and judged me for every life-choice. He expressed in no uncertain terms that he has a low opinion of me and the career I chose. It was my fault I lost my home and business, and he had zero faith that I would ever be able to recover from my own bad judgment. I took this as a real insult, since it was coming from someone who has never worked an actual job in his entire life.
Needless to say, I did not last for the full three weeks. After about 10 days of brutal judgment, guilt and shame inflicted on me by my “host,” I cleared my stuff (and all evidence of myself) out of his castle and got the hell out of there, and we have not spoken since. I was so angry that anyone could be so insensitive and apathetic toward me after all the times I hosted him, loaned him things, driven him everywhere, etc., that I just had no interest in fixing the damaged friendship. So, again it was back to sleeping in the truck.
Check back soon for more stories about friends that helped me along the way!