It's been three days in my new home, and I'm still feeling surreal.
One week ago, my mother was in a state of high dudgeon. Our money was running out (like it always does, when she's feeling stressed) and there was little to be done. Craigslist had provided me with lead after lead, only to prove frustrating when the poster turned out to have a boyfriend/girlfriend who "just happened" to have come back, sorry, someone who had asked first, someone who was trying to rent an apartment for twice as much, sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Good luck, you're just not what I was looking for. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
Meanwhile, I was consoling myself with drink and good food...of a sort, trying to stay warm, and musing. My room at the BestValue (at the edge of the amazing West Rock Park, home of the Regicides' Cave, some pre-Cambrian rocks, and a hidden warmsprings) had a microwave, but no refrigerator, so I majored in frozen dinner, cheese and olives, and takeout. I'd gotten blackballed at a few pubs (for various reasons), but I had the resources of one of the best package stores around, which gave me the finest in box wine. Drunk, I'd walk into the parking lot and look at the moon, or down to the transient's pub down the hill, where I'd mingle with the locals. I'd also watch TV, constantly, obsessively. I got to know the schedules for Animal Planet, Discovery, and The Cartoon Network by heart, was on a first-name basis with the Monex lady, and counted the days in the week the alternate intro to Jay Leno's show aired. I amassed a whole load of art supplies and read "getting in touch with nature" books, but couldn't, somehow, draw anything much or get out of bed any sooner than noon.
Part of it was the dreams.
I'd lie in bed and find myself transported to the home of my childhood, with the whole cast. Nothing would happen, outside of what I used to call "normal" life: breakfast in my grandmother's 40's-into-80's kitchen, running around the garden with my mother, black-haired and lively as she was, is not, but always will seem to be, doing housework and talking to friends. Or I'd be in Europe, or California, or Midtown Manhattan during the 80's, shopping in high-end cutting-edge boutiques, or relaxing at hotels and spas far more luxurious than this one...Now and then, I'd feel odd, and ask people whether this was...well, real? Of course it's real, and you can stay here, as long as you want...Half-awake, I'd snuggle into my stadium blanket, and smile, feeling home, home...I began to think that I'd one day just cross over for real...
Then Housekeeping woke me, and I'd be drowning in sweat.
But we were, as I said, running short of money.
My mother, each week, would shake her grey head a little more...isn't there anything to be done? Maybe it's you....And one fine evening, I cracked. Here is, formatted as well as I can, what I wrote:
I am an older lady, 46, who's interested in rebuilding her life. I'm
clean, quiet, and easy-going, a great cook and housekeeper. The rent,
etc. would be paid for with a small trust fund, so it would always be
there. I'm a professional writer, I'll also (probably) be going off to
some courses this Winter. Immediate? No problem!
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 415-xxxx.
OK, the gloves are off here. I'm sick of being jerked around by people who answer and then tell me a week later that "their boyfriend is taking the room" or "someone else had it first". I'm running out of money and time: I've been at this for six months, I can't stay with my mother and all my friends are out of town. The "wonderful, understanding" people from (name your favorite social service agency) all refer me to Columbus House, since there IS no "battered woman's refuge" anymore, and there ARE no subsidized housing units left. Even so, the place is on triple-overflow, noisy, dangerous to white middle-class ladies such as myself, and no, you don't lounge around reading and taking classes, there are none. I'm not crazy, I'm not on methadone, I'm childless, and I'm white, therefore there's no "program" I can be put into. Even so, statistics show I'd have to wait seven years before being placed anywhere.
So I need a room, fast. I can pay five hundred a month, plus utilities. I don't own any animals right now. I'll take anything with heat, and a floor. Please reply.
yes -- cats are OK - purrr
this is in or around New Haven
no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
And a reply came. Please come and see my space. I work for the cable company.
The room is small, but very warm. He's Black, very quiet, and has a white girlfriend, a nurse, who's happy I'm here ("He has so few people to talk to.") There is a large tree, of indeterminate species, with nubby twigs and full buds, outside the front window, and a view of the harbor through its branches. There are monk parrot nests outside, and I can hear them chatting with each other during the day. It is a very beautiful place.
Unfortunately, there is still a problem. My mother. She's like this when I move, since everytime I go somewhere, all she can feel is that one day, I'll move and go elsewhere, and that will be the end of us. So she's cutting off pretty much all money until the end of the year, as well as being paranoid, critical, provocative, instigational...according to her, I'm a basket case.
Other than that, I don't feel that way. I feel very...blank, and I've been getting things in order, as well as I may, always repeating to myself the Confuscian maxim that "after the war is over, there comes time to administer the colony", which in this case, happens to mean furnishing my room, dealing with Marcus the Mystery Man, getting healthier and making plans to get a job. (I'm still drinking, but not as much. My theory is that I'll probably stabilize as a publicly moderate, though sensual-in-private voluptuary. As I should be.) I'm feeling hopeful and organized, and very happy.
So, here I come to the last part of my account: I'd like to thank you, with personally signed Christmas cards to each and everyone who pmails me. You've all been such a great help. So, I'll be taking orders until Friday, to be recieved during the Twelve Days of Christmas. The cards will be either UNICEF or St. Gregory Society Renaissance reproductions and don't worry about the cost, it's taken care of.OK?
Of course, housewarming gifts would also be welcome...at least until Mom snaps out of it....and I wonder whether I'll ever drink at Archie Moore's again....mutter, mutter....