His stomach gurgled loudly as he tried to get warm. There was nothing else to eat, it was late and he knew that getting sleep was important. Tomorrow was another day of job hunting, food scrounging, and praying that something would happen to shift his life. Sitting huddled in the back seat of his old Subaru Legacy he prepared to put the seats down, creating his makeshift bed. During the day he tried to make the car look “normal,” he put the seat back up and kept all his belongings neatly boxed and organized, hoping that no one would figure out that he was homeless.
After he got his bed all situated, he climbed into the small space, hibernating beneath the covers, locking the doors and hoping that his parking spot for the night would be safe and undisturbed. He had to keep moving locations, for he did not want to get into any trouble. Lying there he allowed replays of his life before the accident to flow across his brain. Images of buddies from work, times with friends, hiking with his brother Andrew and his wife Beth before they had their adorable daughter Angela.
Why, why had this all happened? his mind asked again in a whisper. It seemed to be a nightly ritual, torturing himself with his present reality. Sleeping and living out of his car, with no job and no clarity as to what would happen next. His physical therapy was over, yet, he was still not back to full mobility. “Shit, it is so hard,” he exclaimed into the cold air. He knew a desk job would absolutely drive him crazy, however, he could not physically go back to working on a construction site. Plus, he wasn’t sure how he would psychologically handle being back.
Sleep evaded him. Instead he went down the pity party lane, reliving the accident, emotionally traversing the surgery, the healing, losing his job, then his apartment. “Thank god, he owned his car,” he exhaled. He knew he could live with friends, move in with either of his parents, or even live with his brother, but, he just couldn’t do it. Everyone he knew had their own challenges, it seemed that life was just this huge uphill climb. In some ways he knew he only had himself to blame for aspects of the situation. He should have tried to save some money, yet, he barely scraped by as it was, living pay check to pay check. Rent was so expensive, groceries, utilities, the list went on and on. He made good money and was respected by his co-workers and employers, but, what are they supposed to do with someone who now can’t physically keep up.
As he finally started to get tired, he chuckled to himself, “you never think this will happen to you, it only happens to other people.” He now knew this was not true. Homelessness was not something you chose, it happens to all kinds of people, each with their own story. The last thought made him feel less alone as he drifted off to sleep.
Waking with a shiver, Doug stretched and quickly looked at his phone, the one item he kept managing to hang on to. He needed it for so many things, specifically potential job opportunities. It looked to be a beautiful day, maybe today he he would receive a job offer or get work with one of the temp agencies he had applied with. Packing up his bedding, organizing his car, he headed to the gym, another bill he managed to barely pay, so he could shower and look presentable.
Today he would go to the public library to use their computers to explore job postings and keep up with family and friends via email and social media, he had to keep up his facade. The unemployment check he received covered basic necessities like the phone, gym, gas, car insurance, and food, he wanted to save for rent, but these basic essentials ate it all up. Plus, he was still trying to get financial assistance for all the medical bills that were piling up.
Sitting down at the computer he typed in his username and password, inhaling with hope he hit the search button. Scrolling through the listings he recognized many repeats from the day before, “please, please, just something that interest me a little,” he sighed. Glancing around the room he noticed some other regulars, jobless people like himself. He wasn’t sure if they lived on the streets like he did, he was too ashamed and embarrassed to ask.
Sitting on the desk next to him was a magazine. It had a construction site on the front, piquing his curiosity. One of the article titles caught his eye, “Is Building Your Passion.” “Hmmm..,” he thought,”I’m not having any luck on the employment site, might as well see what it has to say.” Picking up the magazine he chided himself for wasting time as he opened to the page number specified in connection to the article.
Shaking his head and looking around the room to see if anyone was watching him, he looked at the page again. “This is dumb, the page is blank,” he mumbled quietly to himself. “That sucks,” escaped his lips as he started to close the magazine. “Holy shit,” he exclaimed, drawing attention to himself. “Shhhh…., loudly whispered the woman at a nearby desk, scowling at him for his lousy language.
“Are you happy,” typed boldly across the page.
Doug apologized with a fake smile and looked back down at the page. The words just appeared. “How can that happen, he really was losing his mind,” he thought, trying to act normal. Closing the magazine, he reopened it to the page, testing to see if the sentence would still be there.
“Yes, we are still here,” came another line of words.
“What the hell,” he whispered to the page.
“Who are you, and how is this possible,” he asked.
“Anything is possible and we are the true you, the inner self,” replied the magazine.
“This is crazy, you can’t be me, I’m me,” he stated in irritation.
“There is more to you than your physical body,” shared the words.
“Well, I know that, I have thoughts, I guess I have a soul, never really thought much about it,” he responded with a calmness that swept over him.
Quickly he scanned the room again to make sure no one was watching him.
To be continued… 28