Thursday, February 2, 2012

Homeless in LA

I can't say that I had given much thought to life. It only got my attention when things got real bad. They had been wanting to knock down our building for a while now. I had been living with Gavi for two years. He had been my guide through some very rough times and although, I had been paying him rent, it had been my assumption that he would make sure I had a place to live if push came to shove. Well, now things had been pushing us out the door. The landlord was serious. Gavi, decided to move out. His new place had no room for me. I was devastated. I didn't have the kind of money to rent my own place. I just didn't care about anything anymore. I didn't have the job as the Rebbe. I was working at a restaurant. So many things had fallen apart so fast, that I didn't have the time, to think about who I was and what i was going to do now, so I just let things be. For a while, as they took our building apart, I still went back at night to sleep there. The shower was still working, and my phone was still connected. (I had no cell) sometimes other (homeless) people would share the space with me. I'd come back at night and see that someone else was there. Once I came to the bathroom and saw that someone had taken a huge dump in the toilet. Yes, a little weird, but such was life. Then the walls of the building came down. Only the wooden frame remained. I still slept there. Where else would I go. I took my sleeping bag, and a piece of metal, to keep next to my bed, just in case I'd get an unwelcomed visitor. I didn't know it back then, but looking back, there was something about me that actually liked the wandering life. Freedom and subjection to the natural course, rhythm of every day, not knowing what the next day would bring.

Then the building was gone,great big open field, into my Acura I went. that was my new home. Was far less comfortable than when I slept in my toyota. Acuras were not meant to sleep in. MY Toyota back seat went back to form a comfortable expansive bed, as it joined with the large open trunk area. The accura had nothing. The front seat barely went back. I had to sleep in it, in a contorted position, dumping part of my body into the backseat area, buffering the lacking spaces with pillows and other mechanisms. It was really uncomfortable.Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night was an adventure as you can imagine, and taking cold showers at the beach at night kept me clean.

When I'd go somewhere for shabbos, that was the moment when I had some peace, that feeling of belonging. Inside I wished to be my own person,have my own place, be my own person. I simply didn't know how. I was working and going to school and I simply didn't know how to get the house thing together, and didn't have the motivation. It was all backwards. One day, i went to this place where they were giving out food, and this dude, who's girlfriend had just ran away with his car and walet (you can imagine how sober he was) told me that there was someone on the beach who was renting out spots in a house for cheap. Sounded affordable. I heard there were women. I was in.

Perfect timing. The rains had been coming and it was getting cold. I had been yearing for some warmth. I walked into the house and it was quite an experience. Honesty I had never lived, and been in such close quarters with so many non Jews and such a diverse crowd. Some came from England, Taiwan, Mexico, on drugs, off drugs (even thought at the time I didn't quit know about drugs) long hair, mustaches, stupid people, smart people. The weirdest people, not to exclude myself from the colorful. I can't say that I felt at home, but at least it was warm, and for now this would be home.

I will never forget that first night. I waited on line for the bathroom (so that I could take a shower) It had been so long since i was in a normal bathroom. I was so excited. The floors of the hall had nice thick carpeting. The house had about 20 to 25 people. Even my house when I was young didn't have such thick carpeting. This was a real house, and had a really good feeling about it. I hadn't had this in quite a while. The bathroom, when I finally got in, was also quite impressionable, surrounded by gorgeous white tiling and mirrors. It was exquisite. Then came the best part. The shower. I reveled in the glorious feeling of the hot water pouring all over my body. I was so alive at that moment. I hadn't had a hot shower in a long time. I had been taking showers in the dark, at night, on the beach, with sand under my feet. Now, i was in a bright, clean bathroom, and had an infinite amount of hot water pouring down on me. could life get any better?

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