Aftershocks

Posted: June 4, 2008 in Goals, Homelessness, Hopes, Self Esteem

It has been a long, tedious day. I’m tired in mind, body and spirit.

A few minutes ago I logged onto one of the many news sites and scanned the headlines. It looks like the same old story, different day.

I’m of mixed ethic background. I’m of Chinese descent on my father’s side, so naturally I’m a bit interested about the earthquake that hit China several weeks ago. I wonder if any of the fatalities were distant relatives of mine. There’s no way of knowing. It will remain one of many unresolved questions in my life.  

I’ve been a Californian for just over 20 years now, so I’m familiar with how much devastation earthquakes can leave in their wake. But, sometimes the greatest destruction occurs with the aftershocks because, by then, structural foundations have already been shaken and broken. It doesn’t take much to bring everything down into a heap of rubble after that.

I experienced a type of "earthquake" in my life just about 3 years ago. In a split moment, the foundations of my life were damaged in ways that I could not foresee. But it was the "aftershocks" which have irrevocably altered the landscape of my world. Nothing will ever be the same.

I stepped foot onto the property of the local homeless shelter for the first time on November 8, 2005. According to my private journal, it was a Tuesday. Of all of the things that arrived there with me that evening, nothing remains. Nothing survived the experience of homelessness. Nothing. That which I didn’t lose, was stolen.

Even peripherally there were casualties. A number of friendships I had prior to becoming homeless didn’t survive. I can understand it though. After all, there are folks who must maintain their social standing; the status quo. And I guess that being friends with someone who is homeless doesn’t necessarily look all that good.

About 8 months after my arrival to the shelter, I moved into a small tent in a field about three blocks from the shelter. There I lived for the remaining 18 months of my homelessness. There were numerous times when I’d had to "break down" camp and set it up elsewhere because of local law enforcement.

They would come through often enough to make sure that I and any of the other homeless who were residing in that field weren’t getting too comfortable. I guess they didn’t want us to think we had it too easy. Although, how anyone could even believe that being homeless was easy or comfortable, is beyond me.

Then, nearing the end of October of last year I was offered shelter by a couple of private individuals – which I gladly accepted. I was tired of living in that tent. I was tired of trudging through the mud whenever it rained. I was just tired. And so began a period in my life which I’ve often referred to as my being "transitionally homeless."

Toward mid-January of this year, I finally found myself being able to provide a roof over my own head.

All of this time, I’ve been under the impression that I’ve been reclaiming my life. But, I can see now that that was an illusion. What I’ve been doing is rebuilding my life. There is no way to reclaim all that has been lost. In time I may be able to replace them, but reclaim them? No. That’s just not possible. What is lost, is lost.

The "earthquake" that stripped me of house and home was traumatic enough. But all that followed in the aftermath of the "aftershocks" which followed is beyond anything I could imagine at the time.

There may be some who read this that may think I’m feeling sorry for myself or indulging in self-pity. I assure you, I’m not. I’m far too pragmatic to wallow in a "woe is me" attitude for overly long. Unfortunately, sometimes that pragmatism is seen as my being fickle or uncaring – and even perhaps bitter. Again, I can assure you, such is not the case.

I am, however, human being enough to grieve the losses. I expect that others are the same.

But, as I said at the beginning – I’m tired in mind, body and spirit. It is a weariness that goes beyond my ability to describe in words.

I’m ready for bed, but there are a couple of emails that I want to answer. I guess I’ll do that first.

Perhaps – if I’m lucky – I’ll cry myself to sleep. I need the release.

Tomorrow is another day.

I wonder if tomorrow there will be sunshine in my life?

But, then again it doesn’t really matter because – as I pointed out to someone just this past weekend – the sun is always shining… it’s just that sometimes the clouds get in the way.

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