Today is Thanksgiving.
Normally I don’t really reflect much on this day because… well, maybe I’ve just been ungrateful in the past, too often treating luxuries as if they were normalcies. Or put another way, I was very American. Not this year. Because this year I spent 7 months as a homeless person. Granted, I did have couches or floors to crash on for much of that time. I mostly stayed in Colorado and Texas, both for long enough periods that I applied for at least 150-200 jobs in total. Not one hire, which was stunning to me based on my work experience and bachelor’s degree.
I didn’t have a couch option for about two months worth, during which I lived out of my car, bathed in public restrooms, wrapped myself in a cocoon of blankets on cold nights, etc. Eventually I learned that sleeping in the trunk was more tolerable in terms of keeping warm. I lifted weights on the side of the road and in a public storage unit to keep myself from losing too much mass. Despite my best efforts I still lost about 15lbs.
I had a little under $3k left to my name and started to realize that I was on the verge of REALLY hitting rock bottom… the kind of bottom where shaving becomes pointless. I had $500 in bills a month despite not having rent. Employers weren’t calling back. My stocks were still in the red. Unemployment benefits held up indefinitely.
This was not sustainable.
When I left New York behind in late April I knew full well that I might be spending a little more time than I liked living the life of a hobo. But I figured 3-5 days at most. I don’t know how the long-term homeless handle it, especially the ones without a vehicle. I already have issues with depression and thoughts of suicide started bubbling to the surface like clockwork. No, David, I told myself. Not yet. We can find a way to get an apartment in Los Angeles, find roommates to help make it affordable, a job that at least pays the bills, and get that voiceover/improv career up and running once things are financially stable. We can do this!
See, the problem with going through the wringer at THIS particular time was that I’d already been jumping from one wringer to the next.
The broad strokes:
2007: 3-months after graduating college, the first in my family, my parents reward the accomplishment by evicting me from the house with $50 and a shitty van to my name. Crashed at a friend’s place, then he started stealing what little items I had. And he had the nerve to kick ME out. Fuck him.
2008: Got my first apartment in Albany. A bit of a dump, but it worked. Poverty was a serious issue, as I was eating bread and water for most meals and kept the heat on only 55 to keep the pipes from freezing. Most of the year was very touch-and-go.
2009: In Sept, finally got a job that paid well and was able to get my finances straightened out. Dumped the van, got a new Prius. Then my Grandpa, the closest person I had to a father, died. Two weeks later, my very close cousin and dear friend committed suicide. Depression and alcohol abuse followed.
2010: Charged with two non-violent felonies. Legal battle ensues. Tremendously stressful time and the alcohol use increased along with DXM pills.
2011: Broke up with my girlfriend. Fired from my job. More drinking. Pressured into a shitty plea deal that would render me a felon plus jail time upon sentencing. Fuck all that, I decided. Packed up my car and fled to CA.
2012: Quit binge drinking, became a healthy stoner instead. Things were looking up for a change, until I was apprehended in NY when I visited family. Sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison. 90% of my belongings from the CA apartment were lost. Finances ruined. All I’d started to built had collapsed. Attempted suicide.
2013: A year on parole in NY. Father sells my car and keeps half the profits. Poverty ensues. After trying for months to get him to reason, I eventually file a small claims case. He commits perjury and wins. More/less ostracized from my immediate/extended family. Slowly built up my finances.
2014: Parole ends, so I pack up (again) and head to CA to recover and rebuild everything I had lost, to resume where I’d left off back in July 2012. But my stock investments suddenly plummet and unemployment benefits are frozen (thanks Republicans). Poverty ensues yet again. Find work briefly in Texas, but employer refuses to pay. Poverty continues…
And now after all that I’m facing homelessness?? When do I get a break?
I stopped wallowing in self-pity and made a plan. A high-risk investment with great potential. I went all-in and tripled my savings account within six weeks. A friend hooked me up with a job. Somehow I managed to secure a lease.
The stars aligned.
Now I’m residing in what I believe to be the finest apartment for the price in all of Los Angeles, working full-time, and smoking medical weed on a private sun-deck with mountain views as the sun sets behind them. Every night.
So yes, I am VERY thankful this year!!
What’s next? Renting out the living room and spare bedroom and saving up enough to start voiceover and improv classes in January. I have a foundation in place, now it’s time to focus on the Hollywood career I’ve fantasized about for over a decade.