Every day I go to a coffee shop. I alternate between two of them. One is in Hawthorne and the other is near the river. I usually stay there for ten hours or so. I stay there because these days I have no place else to go.
I haven’t slept in my own bed since October. I haven’t even had a bedroom to not sleep in for just as long. I was living in Oakland, and had been for some time. My lease expired and I had to get the hell out of there so I got to going. I was being shredded every night and I was lonelier than hell. In the five months since those feelings made me leave, I have felt them even stronger than I had previously.
This is the ninth day I have worn this T-shirt and these socks. This is likely the twentieth day I have worn these jeans. I don’t even want to think about how long I’ve been wearing my underwear. My clothes are glued to my body with sweat. At this point I may never take this stuff off.
I wonder sometimes—wonder because I have so much time to do so, these days—why it is I’m still shuffling around, still blinking and breathing and eating and sleeping, and so on. It’s not that I’m afraid that if I stop I’ll die. I’m not afraid to die. It’s just that I would have to sit there an awfully long time for that to happen. Probably some authority figure would tell me to move along, and then I’d have to go find some other place to sit down and die. I guess I have concluded that for now it’s easier to just keep going. I honestly don’t know what else to do.
I have a house. It’s in Hawthorne, about twenty blocks from the coffee shop there. I’m not allowed to put my boxes in there for another two days.
I think about this all the time: putting those boxes somewhere. I have probably a dozen boxes. They’re in my storage unit, which is the size of a broom closet. My storage unit is inside an enormous dusty square-shaped warehouse by the river. I visit my things every three or four days. I have never seen another person in the building. Inside I have two suitcases where I swap out clothes and retrieve my anti-seizure medication. Sometimes I take out my leather jacket and put it on. I stand there for a few minutes and flex my arms. When the leather bends it makes a nice sound. I take it off and put it away. Other times I take out my guitar and play a few chords or whatever. If you can miss inanimate objects, I miss a few of those things. I miss wearing them and holding them. They make me feel safe. I only have a few things like this. I sure do miss feeling safe.
Everything I own has been in that storage unit since October. I made two separate trips up to Portland in rental cars to get it all there. I could have done it in one trip but I had forgotten a few things the first time. At any rate those were nice trips. It takes about ten hours. I was alone and I drove and drove all night, eating fruit and vegetables and sandwiches my roommate had made for me. I would get into Portland at 1 or 2 in the morning and park next to Laurelhurst Park. In the morning I woke up in a sleeping bag in the trunk and got breakfast. If I felt like staying longer I did. Otherwise I immediately drove back to Oakland.
And now, after many months of doing a lot of awful living in four different mostly awful states, I am here on a semi-permanent basis. I signed a lease. I can put my boxes somewhere. I plan to shower and change my clothes too.
I have this problem where I have no money. I suspect this is the case for a lot people on this planet. I think of money in terms of how much food I can buy with it until I can’t buy anymore food. I have about a week or two worth of money. If I ate nothing except rice and beans I could probably make it till the end of April. It’s looking like that might be the case.
There is also an issue involving me giving away my electric kettle. My old roommates in Oakland let me continue to live on their couch for three weeks after I had put everything in my storage unit here, and so I gave them my electric kettle. They seemed awfully happy about that. I can’t very well just ask for it back now. I used that thing about a dozen times a day. You see, I drink a lot of tea. I don’t know how I’m going to do that anymore. When I move into my house in two days, I will have no way to heat water. I don’t even have a single pot. I used my kettle so frequently it burned through the metal. The spout came clean off. I threw it away. I have no money to replace any of these things.
There are a lot of people around me right now. I wonder if they have no money too. Some of them are dressed nicely and some of them are wearing expensive glasses. I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I had my paws on a little bit of money once, which is why I still own anything nice at all. Of course I can’t get to any of it because it’s locked away in that dungeon of a warehouse, and I’d have nowhere else to put it anyway, so all I have are the clothes on my back and a bag with a few novels and teabags in it. By all accounts I am a broke homeless loser. It could be worse. I don’t have a police record and I don’t think anyone is trying to kill me. That’s got to count for something.
They tell me I need to make some money and take care of myself. To which I say: hell, do you want to come over here and live this godawful existence of mine? All I do is plot ways to keep the charade up a little while longer. The charade of course is my life. It is a dumb, weird joke and I don’t think it’s all that funny anymore.
A barista has just come over to my table. She took away my empty coffee cup and smiled at me. They all know me because I am here five days a week and I don’t make a fuss about anything. I like this place more than the other place, even though it is farther away, because the seating is nicer and because it’s open twenty-four hours a day. Portland is a sleepy city and everything shuts down at 10 p.m., but this place, God love it, never stops. There is also a twenty-four hour Subway across the street, but I haven’t hated myself enough to walk over there just yet.
What to do? Hell if I know. I’m exhausted, man. I’ve been sleeping on floors and couches and in other people’s beds for a long, long time now. I would get up and leave right this second, but I truly have no place to go. I would just be wandering around. I’ll do plenty of that after the sun goes down. I have decided to allow myself to spend five whole dollars on a bottle of wine this evening so that I can accommodate all those nasty feelings I plan to feel in the center of the Hawthorne Bridge.