I sleep in four regular places these days: in the loft of a 10′ x 16′ cabin on a pond in Findlay, Ohio, on Betty’s couch (a 98-year-old contemplative who first offered me sanctuary 20-odd years ago when I was exiting a destructive life-style) in Ann Arbor, in my son’s chichi 38th floor River North Chicago apartment with the spectacular view and at Chuck’s second-hand smoke-smelling, semi-retirement building in Akron with my piano, a dinky balcony and my own bathroom. This week, I’ll be up in Northern Michigan at a discounted hotel, hiking, writing, job-searching, and hauling a young, wheelchair-confined relative around to 12-step meetings.
It started in 2009 when Chuck was randomly assaulted, and we lost all the income, holdings and stature that make one middle class.
There are lots of us, it turns out — folks who’ve had regular houses and careers and neighborhoods, who now live in vans, cabins, tiny homes, storage containers, yurts, hostels, sheds, RVs. I’m looking in on my parents in one town, working my part-time teaching job in another, hanging with my grown son in another, performing live story-telling gigs in another.
I got another degree, have applied for over hundreds of jobs, networked, proposed multiple projects, and offered all manner of free services, but the stable, full-time work with health benefits I thought was surely coming my way has so far eluded me. When I’m not freaked out or paranoid about this, I confess to some relief. And a growing sense of mischievousness.
With wi-fi, a laptop, a functioning car, a few simple resting places and a circle of trusted friends, I find I can be at home in the whole wide world. I’ve got duffel bags, bananas, chargers and rainboots. I’m not tied down to stuff, debt, or indentured servitude to work that makes me mad.
I mostly just keep saying no to stuff that makes me tired.