Reminiscence

Posted: February 18, 2008 in Goals, Health, Homelessness, Hopes, Housing

Because of an illness last month I find myself tiring more easily than I did prior to becoming ill. Although it’s been several weeks since I began my recovery, I’m still not at my best. My health is improving day by day. But because I’m still "technically" still on the mend I sometimes have to nap during the day. The only thing missing afterward is the milk and cookies – which actually sounds pretty good right now.

Fortunately, I’m transitionally homeless so I don’t have to worry about finding a place to take my nap. That wasn’t always the case though.  

I know what it’s like to call a tent in a muddy field home. Not exactly living in the lap of luxury – especially when the rains used to come down or when the temperatures dropped at night.

The other thing that I surely do appreciate is having access to a bathroom. It’s amazing how good a hot shower feels at the end of the day. And then of course, it’s nice to know that when nature beckons I don’t have to try to find some place that will allow me to use their bathroom. Even nicer is not having to search for a tree or bush.

An even more basic action that most people take for granted and would probably never think of as a luxury, it the ability to just take off your coat at the end of the day.

Although California’s central coast is blessed with beautiful weather most of the time, during the winter it can – and often times does – get darned cold at night. I know what it’s like to have to wear a heavy jacket right up until the time I’d get ready to crawl under the blankets – and I do mean blankets. It wasn’t unusual to have a couple of sleeping bags beneath me with one on top. And, then on top of the sleeping bag another blanket or two. All in attempt to stay warm at night.

Then of course, there’s clothing. During the colder nights I’d stay completely dressed. Or more accurately I should say that I would change into a different set of clothing before crawling into bed. I had learned a hard lesson early on. If you try sleeping in the clothes you had worn all day, you’d find yourself freezing to death. It has to do with the body’s peculiar action of perspiring – even in the winter. Clothing that you’ve worn all day will be ever so slightly damp. And, that makes for mighty uncomfortable sleep.

Since I don’t have to live in a tent anymore I don’t have to worry about that. But it did take several days for me to get used to not having the weight of the sleeping bag and blankets on top of me at night. It just seemed strange that my body wasn’t being weighed down at night. And speaking of night…

I’m amazed how much I missed having light at night. I’m not talking about light from candles, a flashlight or even a battery operated lantern. I’m talking about light from lamps. I don’t seem to recall ever thinking much about lights prior to having experienced homelessness.

Another nice thing is having a real door.

During the time I spend living in a tent, my front door was made of same stuff that the rest of the tent was made of: nylon. For about the last month or two of having to live in it, the door zipper "gave up the ghost." Since I’m not a seamstress I decided to take the easy route. I bought a package of "binder clips" to keep it closed. Not classy, but it did the job just the same – sort of.

Oh yes, before I forget.

It’s really nice to be able to walk on a floor that isn’t made of thin vinyl polyurethane. Even though I had a tarp under the tent, the "floor" of the tent would still be cold. That meant having to wear my shoes until bedtime – unless they were wet. And if they were wet when I went to sleep at night, you could bet that they would be wet in the morning when I woke up. Actually, they would be wet and muddy from having had to walk through the field where my tent was.

During the time I was living in the tent, I had to make certain that I had eaten any food that I might have taken back there with me. If I didn’t, I was taking a chance that some of my neighbors – like field mice, possums, and whatever else was out there – might decide to help themselves to a free meal. That would have been bad since they didn’t know how to work the zipper. They would have just eaten a hole through the nylon.

That did, in fact, happen on one occasion. And over a bagel that I had thought to save for the next morning. When I looked for the bagel, it was completely gone, except for a few crumbs. But, whatever it was that ate the bagel did leave me something in return: a hole about the size of a fifty cent piece. Thank goodness I knew how to use duct tape.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

NOT!

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