So when we went to housing court earlier this year after we found ourselves in the midst of an illegal sublet situation (unbeknownst to us before we were served with a holdover petition), I was able to negotiate a deal for us to stay in our apartment rent-free until the end of September with an option to extend through the end of October at the current, rent-stabilized rate (about $700).
My roommate has been bugging me for the money for a couple of weeks now. I explained to her that not having a laptop for a week (a dear friend from Chicago generously and graciously purchased me a refurbished computer from Newegg, but it took time to arrive) cost me my month’s expenses in terms of lost work that had to be reassigned to other people as well as cost me that freelance job for the next few months when they put me on suspension for having to reassign the work.
And my new adjunct job? Well, because I was hired late in the game and my paperwork was processed late, I won’t get paid until at least mid-October.
I do other work, too, that’s just an inch or two across the line I said I wouldn’t cross. But that’s dried up, as it does for everyone in August and September.
I’ve given her every extra dollar I have that doesn’t go toward my transit costs or eating once a day. (I’m drinking lots of water and hearing a lot of comments about how I’m looking great, did I lose some more weight? I wish they’d stop. I grimace.)
She told me she’s tired of hearing about my laptop. That it’s none of her concern.
I’m sorry, but if I were gone for the weekend and came home to find out that something were stolen from my home? I’d be freaking out. How did they get in? How did it happen? Was anything else taken? Should we change the locks? But she’s been nonchalant to the point of comatose, uncaring to the point of being cruel.
And now she’s told me that if I don’t have the money by this weekend, I need to leave.
This, with a $550 (two months’ late) phone bill due by the 1st or it’s disconnected. This, with not having paid my child support for a while because I simply don’t have it. (Yes, call me a deadbeat mother while I eat one meal a day and walk 40 blocks to save subway fare so that people can congratulate me on the weight I’ve lost. Poverty is the new diet craze!) This, with the humiliation of having had to cross that line, even though it’s only by an inch or two. This, while suffering crippling PTSD and intractable depression and panic attacks and severe anxiety.
I always said if I ended up homeless and in a shelter it would only be the middle of the story.
It looks like that’s where we are now. Or at least where we’ll be come Monday, after I spend Saturday boxing up my things and Sunday bringing them to a storage space that I’m also behind payments on, if I can convince them to let me access it.
And then Monday, unless I can find a couch to sleep on (I’m putting the word out), I’ll head to the drop-in shelter and pray that I’m not sentenced to sleep in a chair for months like a dear friend of mine experienced.
This is what two MAs and a lifetime of hard work gets you. Freelance check to freelance check, and one tragedy puts you out on the street.
And I’ll miss seeing my son on his birthday for the first time since he was born 14 years ago.
I need to stop writing now. I’m on a bus and I can’t cry more than I already am.
The worst (best?) part is that I know I’ll survive all of this because I always do. Just please don’t tell me that. Because, really, it’s not what I fucking need to hear right now.