Raising a Stink
We all live somewhere. We all have stuff where we live. We have pots and pans and furniture and televisions and computers and cars and books and coffee makers and electric blankets and a beer bottle collection and Grandma Adele's broach and Dad's college graduation Hamilton watch and your kids' toys and maybe even your old toys from when you were a kid.
It all fits in the place you live. Maybe its tight, but its all there. Its comforting knowing that. Its your home and that stuff makes it particular to you.
Imagine you hit a financial hard patch.
You have to move to a smaller place.
Imagine that you have to give up some of your stuff. It might require some effort, but you can rationalize that its a hidden opportunity to reduce your footprint. To simplify your life. Yeah. That's it. Its a cloud with a silver lining.
When its over, you have a few bucks in your pocket and less stuff to move to your new digs.
The new neighborhood isn't quite as nice as the last one. Your new residence is smaller. But hey. At least you can afford this. For a while at least.
Its hardest at night, when you're alone with those last few thoughts before the comfort of sleep fully washes over you.
Unemployment runs out. The rent's a few months past due. You sell some stuff. Its gets you by for a while, but you see where that can lead. You get in touch with family or friends. Yeah you'll have to get rid of more stuff, but that's better than homeless, right. You sell stuff on craigslist. You leave some on the curb; that sofa was kinda stained and worn. Never mind that your youngest kid was lovingly nursed on it. Its old.
Wow, that was easy. It all fits into the car and the smallest UHaul. That's much easier than when, years ago, it took a whole Mayflower truck and a hired crew to move you. You lie to yourself saying this is better.
But you know its not. You stifle the tears. Gotta be strong for the kids.
It all comes flooding back, why you and your sister were estranged for all those years. Desperate though you are, maybe it can still work. After all, you're doing the dishes and making her beds every day.
It comes to a head. The kids will be better off with er. Besides, they get along *really* well with their cousins.
You sell the car and buy an older, cheaper, smaller one. You and your life partner load in what you can. What to do with Dad's watch? Leave it? You know he wanted *you* to have it. Not your sister. But it can't take much physical abuse and its easily lost or stolen.
You get where you're going and you sell the car. That money will buy food for a while. And a tent.
Not so bad. The lantern's cheap to operate and how nice of that man in the next tent to invite us to share his cookstove.
Where can we go? Will we be arrested for hitchiking?
The stuff's pretty much all gone, now. Your belongings fit in a shopping cart that it is illegal to use, and an old suitcase. The old suitcase was with you on that trip to Europe a few years back. Was it really only four years ago? The rest of your stuff is blowing on the winds, lost to you. Just the two of you. Huddling. Man. Its *fucking* cold.
At what point are you dehumanized?
When you lose your stuff?
Or when you lose hope?
Imagine yourself with nothing.
Now think about the people who want to cut the last vestiges of the New Deal and the Great Society. Think of the people bent on "overturning the last 40 years of left wing government."
Can I at least keep this old picture of my dead parents on their 50th anniversary?
I wish I was with them.