view of city street

An “I Can” Kinda Girl

I am not much of a naysayer. I generally can, I will and I do. I do not ‘don’t, won’t and can’t’. I am not much of a giver-upper. I am the one who, when faced with a vehicle full of fellow travellers, no camping spots because the tourists have taken them, no money for showers, and nowhere to park up and rest, gives everyone else the pep talk and makes something happen. I find a free spot to camp in for a few days, a rest area that no one will notice us in over night, or a parking lot that we can hide in while we work something out. I find jobs cleaning motel rooms, the last $1 pizza in Walmart, ready cooked, but just past its best. I hunt down an electrical outlet for cell phones, and get them charged up with a few percent so people can do things they need to do. When everyone else is saying ‘impossible’, I make things happen. Good things mostly. Sometimes not, but we don’t need to bash on me any more this week, at least.

Sometimes I force things to happen so hard, out of desperation, I make everything worse. Sometimes I do not know when to hold ’em or walk away but I generally know when to run. I haven’t been wrong yet. The day I am wrong about when to retreat, is the very day I die, I suspect. Or at least something irrecoverable happens, which might as well be the same thing.

The thing is I fear I can smell ‘the end’, cornered, trapped with no retreat, nowhere to go, nothing to be done. I fear all my natural tendency to get things done, to cheer on the ‘troops’, to remain bright eyed and bushy tailed, to withstand, and resist and suffer through it all, is not going to be enough.

Friends, WordPressers, countrymen….I am tired. I am tired of having to worry constantly about the how I am going to keep this going. I am so tired I am almost ready to just let go. I should be having a day off today, I should be watching the rest of an Andy Warhol documentary. Instead I am stitching together writing, working on my poetry anthology, collating queries to magazine and publishers and generally wearing myself out. I should be drinking tea, pruning the lucky bamboo, and thinking about dragging my dead ass to the pot shop and buying some more weed before I lose my mind and end up grabbing a bottle from the much more accessible liquor store mere steps from my apartment.

I really need to raise the rent for the next year, which is going to be $24,000, plus living expenses. Then I need to keep on going. I don’t think I can do it. I need to stay in safe San Francisco, where we are settled and safe. I need to get the Boy to adulthood, so he can go live the life he so deserves. I need a win. Of course, without being crass, I got led along and then let down horribly, but fuck that person, I didn’t let it destroy me. I thought I had options and a future when in fact I had none, and should have been spending that time working on what I am doing now.

I earn a little money here and there writing for publications, but it isn’t enough to pay the rent. I need a real writing job, a solid income. I need some hope. Because even the most sunny side up grouchy grizzled life-warrior can’t run on empty forever. Right now I don’t have a lot of hope. If I can’t continue life here, if I can’t afford to, then I lose the Boy. I lose my home that I had to wait so long for. I lose everything. I don’t think I can survive that. Perhaps ten years ago I might have had a bit more fight, but the kiddo needs to be stable, to continue with his schooling and enjoy being a teenage boy. I can’t up sticks and make us live in a campground again. He needs more than that at this point in life. I know he would. The kid would follow me gladly to the ends of the earth, but I simply will not allow him to do that. I perhaps could cope outside. He must never ever have to do that again.

When I left and ended up on the road, I was not thinking of five years down the line. I was not thinking about the next week. At the end of a year, I was absolutely shocked that we had made it that far together. As time wound on, two years, three years passed, and I had managed to hold the situation together, I entered into a psychological arrangement of living by the day. I paid for the day. It became a battle cry, a watch-word, an entire philosophy. I used to tell people, ‘let’s have a nice day today’, I paid by the day, lived by the day, survived by the hour. A minute could often change everything. A single cop on a traffic stop brought my entire world crashing down.

Here I am now, and that first year in San Francisco, ten months of it at the family shelter, flew past. It was often incredibly difficult, but we got through it. Now it is easier, but for how long? How long do I have? Will I have to make that impossible goodbye to my son? Will I have to accept that I fought and lost, instead of fought and won? I don’t know. I don’t even know if I am capable of giving up after so long fighting against impossible odds, and holding on by my fingertips. What happens if I am just incapable of giving up? Will my body simply say, “that’s enough now, pal”, and give up for me?

Quite simply I need to hold on a little bit longer, against all odds. The clocks went forwards today, taking another hour away from me. I am not a summer person, which is curious, I suppose for such a lover of California and its more or less eternal spring and summer. I suppose there is nothing I really have to do today but breathe and survive, because if I don’t everything I fought for will be for naught.

D

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