on being homeless

Wellington Desolation... potty?

I don’t think I could start a post like this one without saying that I’m not homeless in the usual sense of the word.
I have now not a single debt in the world – no mortgage, no loans, no consumer debt, NOTHING – and I have a net worth in the mid-six-figures.  Yet I fit the definition because, for a week, my family has had no home.  Our home was sold and our lease on our new home has not yet begun, so we are – by a weak technical point – homeless.

I can’t say it’s enjoyable. I am fortunate to have parents with a home large enough to accomodate an additional four people without much strain, but it’s still an odd feeling.  I have been homeless twice in my adult life now.  Once, when I returned from Moscow in my mid-20s, and now.  When I returned from Moscow I was single and simply didn’t bother to get a separate place to live.  I had been overseas for a while and living with my parents for a month or two while I found a new job seemed like a vacation.  After selling our house in New Jersey, we were left with an awkward “gap time” between the pickup of our belongings by the moving company and delivery in Florida.  So, for a brief time, we are living off what could be stuffed into our minivan.

Again, we haven’t suffered. My parents and my brother’s family have spent a lot of time taking care of us, and in many senses it’s been a relief to finally put the house sale behind us.  Although I’ll miss our house (the house to which I brought my two children home from the hospital), I was relieved to sell it, collect the proceeds and move on.  Knowing that it was sold a few months ago gave me time to adjust and move on.  What I wasn’t prepared for was a sense of disorientation – being unemployed and without a “real” home for even a week gives me a sense of vertigo.

If you read much about the crisis we are enduring as a nation, you get a glimpse of the terror a lot of people must be facing. Worrying about paying the electric bill has never crossed my mind, but I can’t even begin to understand the terror a family must face if they can’t pay for heat in the winter.  For the first time in my life though, I have started to realize that I CAN understand that terror.  Not because I’m suffering – far from it, to be honest.  I just felt, for a second, the open, empty feeling of having no base.

I don’t think I can take much away from this episode other than sympathy. We have rented a nice house in a good neighborhood of a well-to-do town in a prosperous county in a … well, struggling state.  But Bubelah and I are fortunate to have parents who are supportive and helpful, so we’ve never felt hopeless.  I just wish – after a tiny dose of homelessness – that everybody was as lucky as we are.  Being homeless – even in a technical sense of the word – is a disturbing feeling, and I would never wish it on anyone.

photo credit: Glutnix