8 Scenes of Home

Scene 1

The empty space consumes when the music stops. You imagine that it is only temporary. But the space keeps eating at your hungry mind, and all that it has acquired feels like nothing...nothing that needs something otherwise it is nothing and you are suddenly in a state of longing. Where is the sound, the motion, the drama, the people, the energy that breeds life...it is slowly dying. You are sitting in an office sending emails to people. Your position has been predetermined by space camp; elementary school. This is the space you have been trained to move through and it is comfortable here.

Scene 2

You are walking along Wylie St. on the way to the laundry with clothes strapped to your back in a giant camping pack. You notice a shopping cart that has been abandoned near the green house that’s covered in graffiti and for a second you consider using it. There is a dog, your dog, you suppose. Its leash is tied to the strap of your bag because you have more clothes in your left hand. You look down at the dog and say, “We will eat tonight and it will be good.” She believes you, thoroughly. You cross the threshold of train tracks, drop the weight you’ve been carrying, let go and fall in. This feeling of utter discomfort is confirmed when you cross paths with an old friend. You both used to work in the same restaurant. He still works there and you do not. Several days ago, you saw him walking on North Highland on the way to the bar with a guitar strapped to his back. “I’ve been on the street for two weeks. Do you have a couch I can crash on?” “Yes, of course. What’s your number? I’ll call you at 11.”

Scene 3

Minutes later, you cross him again. You are walking in opposite directions on Krog St. There are flowers growing inside of the tunnel, paper flowers made out of old ticket stubs and coat hangers. You look up and he is standing there. You ask and he says he has found a place and you are relieved. You never called him that night. The endless nature of someone in need had frightened you and you say that you lost his number, ask for it again.

Scene 4

It’s one thing to believe in helping others. You live in a world rich in philoso- phies, but it becomes another world entirely when you stumble upon someone who actively engages in them. You are sitting in a pop-up camper at the Land Trust with Taria. She says, remarking of her children’s education, “They just sit in a little box, in a little desk, all day and they are learning about ideas.” You imagined you would interview her like a real journalist; you even have notes and questions written down on your notepad, but all you can do is sit there as she talks.

Ashley and I were separating and so we both had to find places to live. I did not make enough money to pay for rent and utilities plus everything else I had to pay for...I was coming home to this house...working my ass off to pay for my kids to go to school, even though it’s a good school, they’re not with me...I started to get pissed off that I had to make all of this whole bullshit work. I was sick of making it work; l I don’t want to make it work...

He took $1300 instead of $1400, he took all the money that I had. I still didn’t know where I was going to park it. It’s Halloween night and I’m sewing moccasins and making a loincloth for my son because he wanted to be a Native American Indian. I’m in the middle of moving out, packing up, and I’m breathing. Still Halloween, I’m still a mom...

I saw this guy Allen at the Land Trust and asked him if he knew anywhere I can park a camper...that was my detachment from the system. It was short, very intense, and relaxed at the same time because I was really just doing what I wanted...

You finally manage to get a question in. “Is it a choice?”

Scene 5

Being in a place between home and homeless is more difficult than being solidly positioned in either, despite your tendency to romanticize the freedom it implies. You are couch surfing, but it is temporary. There is a home waiting for you in the near and foreseeable future. You sit in your friends’ house all day and night, drinking wine at the kitchen table, bumming their cigarettes and using their toothpaste and Burt’s Bees shampoo. But not to worry, you have money coming in, a job. You don’t leave the house very much so evidence of this job is questionable at best, but they believe you. You say that you’re leaving at the end of the week. The week spills over to the next week, but it’s just a mishap with the new place. Some kind of inspection, a certificate of occupancy, you say. They say okay. The days roll on. You are not homeless and they are not worried.

Scene 6

Your dependence on friends grows, and it pushes the boundaries of need and need grows bigger. Your understanding of what it is to give and to need exits the pages of hippie/anarchist philosophy and you have a first-hand taste. The children of wealthy yuppies indulge in being poor like a fad, a choice; you slowly learn that there may be no end to this trend and that this state of being is not temporary. The world doesn’t have it to give and they’ve taken enough for your great-great grandchildren, so you have to figure out how to stretch it now. Changing the state of the status quo means actual suffering, and you consider that maybe you are ill-equipped for this task. Coming to grips with the fact that the resources and bounty that have been raped to produce the excess you grew up with are tapped and rebelling against you. Lines of what one earth is willing to give have been drawn. Space is limited. Where do you live? How long might you live there? Who’s back are you living on? How strong is your own? What can you survive without when it is not a choice? Is it better to give it up under the pretense that you can have it back any time and this is a statement rather than surrendering to the reality of the situation in its present context: you are homeless and you don’t know what you are doing.

Scene 7

Space is coveted and it is disappearing before your eyes. It is being bulldozed by developers. You watch as giant metal monster knocks the bricks down and they crumble and it sounds like somebody is pouring cereal into a bowl. Next the big metal jaw comes down and sways to the left. A wall is gone. It crashes south, eats the door frame, then moves forward to knock out the back wall to what looks like a bedroom. The bathroom disappears in a single, clanking bite. Fast forward through time, you watch rents rise and open space gets boxed into larger units. They build upwards to capture more “free” space, towering the humble family homes, and humbling the families in them. The new neighbors don’t speak to them and they have a big dog that barks and growls and bites the fence when they arrive home from work in the evenings.

Scene 8

You sit on the back porch of the cabin and gaze into the woods. There is a square wooden shack the size of a large closet sitting on the hill among the trees. It was put there by the Madhousers and the man set to live there will do so in trade for the space it and he occupy. He will work on the property, fixing things that break, and this is how he pays the landowner. There is a deer coming nearer, stepping fearlessly through the trees. He is old and has large antlers. On one side what looks like a discarded mop head is hanging from them, swaying. He twitches his head, staring at you intently. You turn to thte left. The leaves have fallen off of the trees and you can now see Memorial Blvd.