I just received a job offer that will make me financially stable for the first time in my life. Yet, I’ve been a little sad and contemplative since receiving the offer.
You see, for the last year my amazingly supportive sister gave me housing, the occasional grocery and a low paying job in a field that is now to be my first true career. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I would be without her over the past few days and have wondered at moments if I might have been homeless.
While there is an extra bedroom in either of my parents homes… there are not job opportunities at home. It is a small town with a highly competitive job scene. I can bartend at home and do well but to make more than 35,000 a year, which is just above a living wage, I can’t live at home. Home felt like a trap and after growing up with parents living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t want to be trapped in that same cycle… so I’ve crashed with my sister.
My situation has gotten me to thinking about homelessness in general, though. I’m privileged being a white, middle class, educated, conventionally attractive, female. And I still struggle. I can not imagine truly bottoming out and figuring my way back up.
I remember camping for a summer when I was about 8. My step brother and I shared a tent and I was baptized by my step dad in a stream behind our camp. At the time, I didn’t realize we were homeless. I do remember crying about some toys my mother had gotten rid of and not quite understand when it stormed why we had to sleep in the back of a church but I’m not sure I understood I was actually homeless. My family dug there way out when the weather got cold and a family friend offered us a free place to stay temporarily.
These small supports of our community gave my family the opportunity to succeed and give me the opportunity right now to build. What if I didn’t have that community? What if my community was all also struggling with homelessness? I don’t have the answers but I do think about it.