home from hell, homelessness and the holy

One of my two greatest fears is coming to pass.

I am homeless, a result of the roommate changing the locks on Colorado’s second big snowstorm that dumps a foot of snow overnight.

Driving the roads with no destination, I call first the budget motel where I’d lodged for three weeks upon arrival in Denver. Even that rate is outside my budget. I watch the clock. Each passing minute is another minute lost to the sleep needed to begin my new job tomorrow at 7 a.m. Each is another minute consumed by anxiety about where to stay not only tonight but tomorrow and the day after and the day after.

I head to Broadway Street, a gritty stretch and not only for the shoddy pavement. The motels are cheap.

Not so cheap after all. At the first place, as the snow falls furiously, the bell awakens the man sleeping on a cot in the lobby. He has only a 2-bed room. Way outside my needs and budget.

Back in the car and combining smart phone and GPS — both recent acquisitions that’ve been godsends on plenty occasions already — I locate another budget mom-and-pop.

“What are the conditions like?” I ask.

“It’s not a five-star resort,” the clerk with a Middle Eastern (?) accent replies. “But the rooms are clean.”

There at 11 p.m. — “you’re lucky, I was just closing when you called” — I plead my case, sans details, and for a rate reduction. We negotiate to an agreement.

He’s right, a 5-star resort it isn’t. The room’s clean enough, dry, warm, has a hot shower and a bed — paradise on a snow stormy night.

If I can get five hours of sleep for my first day of work, I’ll be okay.

My mind plays over the night’s events over and over. Thoughts churn like a waterwheel, mostly about what my roommate might do next. Is she spiteful and malicious enough to empty her house of my things? Set my boxed stereo equipment, including much-beloved gorgeous speakers, out on the curb?

She knows they have value when she helped carry them in. I’ll know better than to divulge such information to a new roommate hereafter.

Might she take my valuables to a pawn shop? Is that why her car wasn’t there?

Over and over my mind plays out scenarios and what she might do next. She’s a rampager and spiteful but not particularly clever, I don’t think, and not overly inclined toward the labor required to haul my stuff up the stairs from the basement through the house and yard to the curb or her car.

Not without help. Her maliciousness is her fuel but fortunately she is not, I gather, a physical workhorse. This is to my hopeful benefit when mulling the odds of my stuff surviving her wrath.

The night’s hours pass, one after another and predictably, like soldiers marching in formation. The only sounds are a rattling heater and traffic muffled by the thickening snow and the occasional squeaking of the floor above — someone else up way late.

My cell-phone alarm — another wondrous invention! — sounds at 6:20 in the morning. It’s moot. I’ve slept not a wink.

My car looks a bit changed from last I saw her buried beneath the foot of white stuff!

I’ve no gloves or jacket or shoes suitable for snow. Actually I do but they’re being held hostage with all I have save what’s with me:

(1) a small flight bag containing the usual notepads and pens and journal and iPhone power cord and bottle of water and Berr Symon, the teddy bear who travels most places with me;

(2) my backpack containing laptop and Bible and more notepads and pens and a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Always travel with a toothbrush, my friends, for you never know when an insane person will lock you out of your home.

Employing a lid from a plastic box in the car and my bare hands, I scrape snow off the windows. Wow, I’ll say this about Denver: When the snow falls, it falls hard and accumulates thickly. Nothing middle-of-the-road about Colorado weather!

It’s slow going on the roads. Before 7, it’s still dark, the sun’s yet to blink. I’m going to my first day of work on no sleep and negotiating heavy slush, slippery surfaces, ice. I proceed cautiously, unlike many of the drivers, and arrive at work late but there, in one piece.

My first day consists of training, efforts to stay coherent and focused and on top of the fatigue and loopiness of no sleep and pressing concerns about where I’ll slumber (hopefully) that night. I can’t afford another night in a motel — even the worst is a veritable five-star in these circumstances!

No, by the time I get off work, I have no place to go.

The prospect of sleeping in my car is very real, probable.

And an unappealing prospect it is. I’ve no pillow. No blanket. No change of clothing; I’ve worn, slept and worked (orientation and training) in these same clothes two days going on three now.

Most of all I’m concerned about the effect of another night of no sleep (I’ve “slept” in my car before) on me, my health and performance at the job.

Again, bless the miracle of smart phones and brilliance of Steve Jobs! I sit in the warm, cozy and homey lobby of the assisted living facility where I work — therein lies irony one! — digging through Internet sites for resources for the homeless.

I sure could use that folder of homeless resources I’ve got at home right now! Therein is the second irony!

I make call after call after call after call; as often as not I get no one on the line. Shelters are either full up because of the weather or very far away or simply non-existent.

I also continue pouring through craigslist (as I’ve been doing all day) for someone who might take me in, even if just for a week.

And the fellow with the room I viewed yesterday — the only iron in the fire — isn’t calling back. There’s no furniture in that room but if I explain my situation, perhaps he’ll let me sleep on the couch and for a fee far below a motel’s.

Manor Subaru is looking very likely. I dread the prospect. The nights dip well below freezing. I finally have a job after three years of unemployment and I care about it. I want to do it well. Snoozing — if I’m lucky — in the car’s a terrible way to begin a new job. I’m angered most by the selfishness, the utter narcissistic selfishness of my roommate who likely hasn’t given a single thought to the effect of her action.

I don’t get it, can’t and don’t particularly want to either.

The clock reads around 4 p.m. Night’s peeking in around the corner. Still no shelter. No one on craigslist coming through.

Then a miracle occurs.

Shall I call it a miracle? Or the Divine Light and Spirit and celestial beings and protectors watching over me?

Or shall I call it good returned to me in my hour of greatest need for the good that I give upon this planet and to humankind even when I myself am in need?

I reach by phone a man named Daniel, who is renting a room — in fact just placed the ad.

I explain my situation, trying to quell the panic and simply state What Is: an emergency situation created by actions of my (now former) roommate.

“You’ll never get a call like this again and I’ll never make a call like this again but here it is …”

And he listens. That’s the AMAZING part of this. Most people wouldn’t give a s**t. They wouldn’t or couldn’t take time to listen with the heart as an extraordinary situation is presented.

But he did.

And with just 30 minutes left before he had to take off for an evening obligation, he lets me come over.

I fulfill his request for a character reference — the people at my last job in Tacoma. Simultaneously, I arrive with rent, in cash, as a show of integrity and honesty. I’m not there to crash-and-go.

We meet. Two good souls encountering each other.

My heart and hopes sink when he says that he’s got someone willing to make the 6-month commitment he desires coming to look at the room tomorrow.

Tomorrow, for me, is a long ways away.  Now, this moment, matters.

I don’t know exactly what changes his mind, pushes past his hesitation.

I believe it’s some Divine Light and will. Just as night falls upon snowy Denver, I am safe and sheltered.

He extends his furnished room to me at that moment.

And I move in — me and all my belongings of the moment: a shoulder bag, a backpack and a teddy bear, a 2008 rescue from the Goodwill, named Symon.

And that, my friends, is how my homelessness is ended and how I came to know goodness returned to me, extended to me in my own hour of tremendous need.

This is how I came to know a little bit more about Divine Light and that one five-letter word that is so damn difficult, by far the hardest and most challenging word in all languages for me to get my literate hands and mind and tongue and self and being around:

faith.

And the story, one might notice, now bears a title.

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fotografzahl
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 15:44:52

    Glad you have found a new place to stay.
    As soon as you have your stuff back I would tell your ex-roomie to pay the invoice for the first night or otherwise sue her if she does not…

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 23:10:10

      @fotografzahl – Hell would freeze over before she’d put a nickel toward my troubles and lodgings. My need to have this woman entirely out of my life and this put behind me outweighs the financial loss. It ain’t worth even attempting. She’s trouble. Best to run fast and far and don’t look back!

      Reply

  2. lauowolf
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 22:27:04

    Good god.
    I am a landlord.
    I once flubbed meeting new tenants from out of town – entirely my confusion.
    They found a hotel and caught me in the morning.
    I sooooooooo paid for the hotel, in addition to apologizing profusely!
    This woman must be insane.
    I’m assuming most likely some pick-up will get worked out for your stuff..
    But if all else fails, small claims court.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 05, 2011 @ 23:13:51

      @lauowolf – The woman has serious issues, which rushed to the forefront a mere four days after I moved in. As I was informed by the police, a judge would likely rule in my favor if my things went missing but I’d have to prove they’re mine. To my query of how I’d do that, the officer didn’t know so she’d have likely gotten away with it, had her maliciousness extended that far; fortunately it did not.

      Reply

  3. Country Cinderella
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 00:43:18

    I finally had a chance to catch up on some of my blog reading (okay I played hookie from doing my homework – feeling a bit frustrated) and I saw all the things that have been going on for you. Wow what a roller coaster ride you have been on. Congratulations on the job. Sorry to hear about the ex-roommate changing the locks, and the subsequent search for a night’s lodging. Congratulations on finding new lodgings I hope this turns out to be a good long term location for you. I hope you get all your things out of the ex-roommate’s place.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 07, 2011 @ 10:39:17

      @cc — thanks, sweetie. Btw, long term would mean more than a week of peaceful, nourishing and successful cohabitation with a sane and kind human being. Normalcy looks like paradise after a brutalizing journey through hell. I’ also now absolutely convinced that with rare exception, living (and working) with males is far far far far preferable to females. In the history of mankind, generally, a fucked-up man can’t hold a candle to a troubled woman. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Or embittered. (Ed. Note)

      Reply

  4. Country Cinderella
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 00:44:49

    Darn forgot to hit the “notify me of follow-up comments via email” button again. And I can only select it now by adding another comment so sorry for this ramble.

    Reply

  5. katie
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 17:31:04

    This is just me, but I would have found some way to break into the house and get my stuff, consequences be damned.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 07, 2011 @ 10:04:16

      @katie – I searched around the house for entry access in the snow, wearing fabric clogs and only a sweatshirt jacket so damn cold and dark! — and I was not willing to break glass and bring upon myself the ruinings of B&E charges, fines, jail, etc. Best for me was to maintain patience, reason, composure and the higher road.

      Besides, who wants to be up until 2 a.m. packing and hauling stuff upstairs through a snowstorm alone and then have no place to go or sleep and the driving challenges of a loaded car in the snowstorm? Not me. Much as I wanted my stuff out, I had to be prepared for sleeping in the car and it packed tight would potentially worsen an already bad situation.

      Reply

  6. Flamingo Dancer
    Nov 06, 2011 @ 21:56:33

    I do hope things start to improve for you. I cannot imagine the isolation, hurt and helplessness that you must feel, and I wish only good things and strength to you, my friend.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 07, 2011 @ 10:11:05

      @FD – Thank you. Life’s hard and then you die. I’ve survived way worse on strength, fortitude and sheer will…though I admit that this is a first! I may die weary but certainly not unwise!

      Reply

  7. longeyesamurai
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 04:59:00

    Hope that a) your current lodging situation is stabilized and that the prospect (snow) flakes out of his offer. And b) you get your stuff back without having to extract a pound of flesh.

    Reply

    • allycatadventures
      Nov 07, 2011 @ 10:25:28

      @capra – “Hope that a) your current lodging situation is stabilized and that the prospect (snow) flakes out of his offer” — hope you meant *doesn’t* flake out! No, he didn’t; as mentioned, I received shelter and safety on the spot, some 15 minutes after meeting and viewing the room. The goodness of one person can truly change the life direction of another.

      Reply

  8. cruisekitten
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 08:12:33

    I hope the this Daniel is a better bet for you.
    I am certain that this horrid person who dared to change the locks will get whats coming to her. As they say Kharma’s a bitch!

    Reply

  9. Anonymous
    Nov 18, 2011 @ 15:08:00

    Congrats! I hope this new locale works out for you. As for the most recent former (lunatic) roomate all I can say is: small claims court!!!

    Reply

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