Where I last left off in writing, I had just managed to secure transitional housing at a men’s shelter after being rendered homeless by my family.
I start part two with a bold, honest statement:
I do not, in the slightest, fault or begrudge my aunt for the action she took which rendered me unhoused.
If anything, she did me the biggest favor possible, by teaching me fear, combined with a lack of complacency. It sounds a strange thing to thank someone for, but, had she not kicked me as hard as she did when she did, I’d probably still be working some absolute dead-end of a job, living with family, and not trying my absolute hardest to show the world that I am more than what they make of me by looking skin deep.
I won’t say that my near two years in the transitional housing program was a cakewalk, not in the slightest, but it did teach me a series of lessons that basically made me much stronger and significantly more resilient to bullshit.
I learned how to make every cent stretch further than it might’ve had any right to stretch. Whether it was couponing, truly shrugging off the purchase of name brand items, watching the papers for sales that I could stack… These lessons took me through all of that time in the shelter, making my paychecks last longer, putting funds away so I could eventually afford a deposit to pay for a place to stay.
I also had to learn to tolerate a shared living environment consisting entirely of strangers that I shared no blood relation to. This was what took the most initial adjustment, both in the downstairs main shelter, and up in the transitional housing program.
For the most part, it was not too hard to adjust, as people largely kept to themselves, might say hello, how you doin’, but otherwise just kept their heads to the grind.
The more talkative ones would try to get to know you, and maybe make a friend or two in the shelter, someone that would keep an eye open for you and your stuff. This is how I met several people that I would eventually call friends or at least acquaintances.
It was in this shelter that I met a guy who would become my housemate. He enjoyed playing bass guitar and smoking. Tobacco, weed, didn’t matter. We both ended up being victims of someone going through our shit in the shelter and stealing things. Both of us had scrounged up enough cash to each buy an Xbox360, so we could have our own thing for entertainment when we weren’t working. Both of our 360s went missing in the shelter.
Much, much later, we would find out that it was one of the staff members that we were asked to trust that was going through our lockers and stealing things that were valuable enough to be resold.
I just hope that whoever bought my 360 off the guy got their pound of flesh because I reported it stolen to the police, and to Microsoft, so the console would be banned from Live. 🙂 After all, I was compulsive in recording serial numbers.
Prior to the rampant theft, along with several other guys, we became decent friends, and on weekends, would gather out in the upstairs hallway with a few TVs and a monitor, and play Call of Duty 3 together. They hated me for my tactic, but couldn’t deny it worked: I would always pick the rocket launcher, which carried two shots. If I didn’t decimate you with the shot from the launcher, I’d club you like a baby seal with the weapon, guaranteeing a kill.
Look. It was a valid tactic. It got me a good number of kills over time.
Eventually, though, I had pulled together enough for a deposit, a month’s rent, and some incidentals that was needed, as had he, and we found an apartment together in North Tampa.
We were both working, had decent working history, references from the transitional housing program we were in, showing that we always paid our rent on time and caused no trouble.
But this gets me into my first apartment. Shared, but it was a place I could say was home, without family around.
At that point, I had been in the call center world for a couple of years, still liking what I did, knowing I was helping people with their computer stuff and being paid for it.
With the move to North Tampa, it added a lot of travel time to my day. Hours of my personal day were consumed by traveling by bus. I stayed too far away to just cycle to work, unlike my housemate, who could just burn it down the road on his bike and back. This also preceded the age of commonly available electric bicycles, so my options were to either buy a car (too expensive!), or find a 49.5cc gas powered scooter.
I bought a scooter. Fat enby on a tiny Wildfire scooter. Yep. But I got to work in 30 minutes at top speed. Now my commute’s just an hour round trip, compared to 75 minutes one way on the bus. It lasted a year or so, but $500 spent is TONS saved, both in time and money.
I ended up buying another 49.5cc scooter, a Verucci VC-50-FS 4S. Much larger scooter, as befit an enby of my size at the time.
I stayed with that company for nearly seven years, over a number of contracts, through good economy and bad, finding out I had diabetes and adjusting to the change in lifestyle and diet that was required…
There was just a lot that we’re fast forwarding through, because much of it deserves its own story.