I prefer rain to rays, laughing to crying, and "enjoying the moment" to analyzing. Sunny Sundays fit in there somewhere and so do the once in a decade snowy southern winter days. We are having one of those preferred rains today and I am enjoying the moment. It is a good time to write.
Once upon a Househusband life, I would frequent our local "rails to trails" hiking trail while Rachel was at work at the library. Long walks with a walking stick and my trusty hiking boots would find me upon the banks of the Chattahoochee at the end of the day. Rachel worked all the time and I didn't mind it much. I actually liked it as it gave me coveted alone time and room to breathe. She couldn't stand to be alone and would have to be with me when she wasn't at work. Rachel didn't have any friends and wouldn't let me have any either. Her work was also all about her career as a librarian and not about "our." Still, I didn't care. I would grow excited as the time grew near for her to leave and I would lock up the house as she left and I then went to play. Inviting green riverbanks and lazily grazing ducks would greet me as the treat at the end of my journey. I can vividly remember a small redheaded girl sitting in that deep green winter grass, gathering the fresh grass cuttings into a pile, and trying to put them into a discarded soda can as a game. That was my last memory of being married other than the huge fight me and Rachel would have that night and the drunkenness that would ensue. I would soon find myself sitting in front of a convenience store in a drizzle and homeless, drunk. A pile of my camping gear, by my side, sitting on the sidewalk getting wet.
It is hard for me to believe I ever lived that way now. It has been so long since life was chaotic and crazy, and I was without a home. I have little "episodes" as my father calls them, but for the most part, life is serene. For that, I am very grateful. I saw Rachel again today as we passed in our cars and it reinforced how serene my life is these days. She waved and smiled and I can remember feeling so relieved at the time. Relieved that she and that life were long gone. I waved and smiled back, but it was forced. I wanted to look the other way and act like I never saw her. I still harbor some bitterness and want to blame her for my homelessness even though it was my mental illness and drinking that caused it. It was just a matter of time and was bound to happen. No, needed to happen. It turned my life around. I did cry for weeks, though, in the cold. "For better or for worse," I would sob as tears literally fell into my beer. I felt abused and discarded like some poor animal that chewed the furniture too much and had shit on the floor once too often. My family turned a blind eye to my predicament in the beginning as well. "I was hoping it would wake you up and you would realize you can't go on living that way," my father would later say. My family would eventually step in to give me the basic essentials of modern living and brought me out of homelessness. I would have to do the hard work of turning my own life around though.
Rosa has told me horror stories of her homelessness when she was a prostitute. I asked her once why she did it. "All I had to do was suck some dick, fuck some guys, and I had a cheap motel room and some crack for the night. It was better than sleeping in those crazy religious rescue missions, or sleeping on park benches. You have to do what you have to do to survive on the streets." I can't imagine Rosa living that way now and in many ways our lives mirror each other. I am just glad I didn't have to suck dick to get a beer. Uncle Sam provided that. We both did what we had to do to get the shambles that were our lives together. I do think we came out stronger because of it, and I also think that is why we are such good friends. "You have to do what you have to do to survive," as Rosa says and we are both surviving in relative comfort these days.