Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Zippermouth

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Our semi-homeless friend C_______ is here visiting. For years we've been watching her trajectory toward simplicity accelerate, and now she lives in a van and bounces around and around, stopping in with us every other month or so for a few days of showers and a place to hang out. She's a true free spirit, and for years and years she got a lot of wonderful support from the world (well, men, mostly). She's going on sixty now and her men are all still twenty years older than her, but....they keep dying off. And not always fast enough for her. And the support now comes in the form of...well, for example, she's very excited today because she found a cooler at Goodwill that plugs into the cigarette lighter of her van. She is a living, breathing manifestation of possibility for me, a constant reminder in human form that the world is a more wild and wonderful and awful place than I can often make room for in my head. C_______ has chosen this path, and she chooses it anew each day. Although now I often catch the glimmer of a deep and numbing fear in her eyes, that this is a ride she can't get off now.

But then it passes, and she's fine again.

I, however, become almost paralyzed with fear looking at her. I can hardly breathe. No income? No retirement? No bed, phone, closet, garden, computer, books? No spouse, no family, no support? She lives on the opposite end of the spectrum from me, and her trust in the world is orders of magnitude greater than mine.

So, I'm grateful for her presence in our lives, grateful for who she is and how she lives her life and for the way she swings away at the underpinnings of my sense of the world.

Ah, but she does scare the living shit out of me....

9 Comments:

Blogger jim said...

I have often thought about pulling up roots, selling or giving away everything, and hitting the road. Mostly in a romantic sort of mood. More often recently in a dire need type mood...when the bill collectors wouldn't leave us alone. But the thought of this type of life was certainly easier to manage (just the thought) before I had kids. Still, sometimes I look at the closets of things I own and wonder how I came to be like this.

8:52 AM  
Blogger jitney said...

scott, if she's not eligible for SS, there are a good many other forms of assistance. Has no one ever referred her to Social Services? She could get food stamps, clothing, all sorts of things. j

10:09 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

She scares me, too, and I haven't stopped thinking about her since I read this. I've tried to comment here 3 different times and I can't do that either, can't write what I really want to write without feeling totally exposed. I would like to say that it isn't that easy to get food stamps and other assistance without a permanent residence. Especially for those who might be ill. The system is a mess, and to run that guantlet is daunting. I hope she is safe.

12:40 PM  
Blogger OrphanedPoet said...

this is 'lady courage'....my goodness, what a life. i keep thinking of ruth gordon's character in 'harold and maude'...

"You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world's sorrow comes from people who are this, yet allow themselves to be treated as that."

i so often i have had flights of fancy seeing myself in the same sort of mobile 'digs', cruising about and following the converging lines of highway. i'm too chicken to ever do it, but there's a part of me romantic enough to love the fact that there are folks who do it-- that it's possible. i pray she always finds her way to places like your home where there's a friendly light over the door and big big hearts inside who will welcome her in for a spell-

scary? you betcha... but oh, how brave.-
k.

3:00 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

Ah, a living, breathing Blanche DuBois, relying solely on the kindness of strangers, and friends. Is that what scares you? That she has put such complete trust in the world, that, in a sense, she's surrendered herself to its will, saying basically, do with me what you will really makes me pause, stand still and try to feel the earth's rotation. It is only gravity that keeps us from flying off this planet, that holds us down rather than allowing us to be hurled into deep space, and it is only kindess...that keeps her from flying off this planet.

It reminds me of a story I read in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a week, 2 weeks, I don't know how long ago, about an older woman who became homeless suddenly due to circumstances beyond her control, and her neighbors took care of her, fed her, clothed her, and eventually got a roof back over her head.

There is kindness in this world.

Thanks for this post. I'll be carrying it with me for days to come.

3:04 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

Geez, that's a run-on sentence. Guess I missed inserting a period after "will" followed by an "It".

English schmenglish.

Ha.

3:07 PM  
Blogger jitney said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:43 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

Hey everyone.

This post seemed to touch a nerve...all of these strong reactions, full of the same kinds of feelings that C_____ brings out in me when I'm around her.

Just wanted to say thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I'm deeply grateful.

And she's doing really well. Heading off to Mexico again. By way of Oregon and Washington.

So. Maybe not that great a sense of direction....

6:09 AM  
Blogger 666poetry-finchnot said...

ah yes / our friends
the people we meet in this life

i guess we just have to trust

i read some thing the other day to the
effect of :

if you want to feel content with what
you have in this world / say / rather than keeping
up with the jones / have friends who
have less than you / it will make you
appreciate all you have that much more

i think the kindest thing we can do
in this life is learn the gift of
giving / it can come in many forms


i think you do a great job of this
scott / your stablity provides a certain
stability for your friend / she knows
you will always be there for her
& that is important

always great to read your work
your thoughts / & peruse all the
wonder full art work here @ your blog

hope you are well/

~jx

3:07 PM  

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