Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Being Poor.

I am poor.  I admit it. But I don't live in poverty which is a vastly different feeling.  I have lived in poverty... I spent 9 months of my life when young living in the back of a 1967 Ford Mustang.  It was kinda olive green and had bucket front seats.  Michael and I would switch sleeping one night in the front and one night in the back.  During the day we tried to ear money and find food without going to the Salvation Army.  Looking back it was a thing one did in your youth..... we took a car to San Francisco and knew we were going to make it rich.  Landing in SF, we lived well for like a week in a tiny hotel near Chinatown  only to come down to the car one morning and found it broken into and almost everything stolen.  (they left one shoe which still puzzles me and a paint brush from my back pack full of art supplies).  After the hotel we drifted to car living.   We had two spots - in the parking lot of a police storage area and a roadstop in Pacifica.  After almost being killed at the one in Pacifica we realized we needed to come home. 

We couldn't find jobs.  We had no permanent addresses and at that time it was really a death knell to getting established.  (You have to understand that we were a few years after the Summer of Love and the Haight-Ashbury district was suffering from the remains of the whole phenomenon). And both of us we very private and shy people so panhandling, living at shelter and such was not even in the equation.   Michael found a very bad job delivering circulars door to door and I tried to find a job of some sort with no luck. We finally found work picking bell peppers in the farms closer to Santa Cruz which led into our experiences as migrant farm workers.
After that we raised enough money to come back to San Antonio and knowledge of how to get going again. 

As I grew older I always lived between the edge of poor and poverty.  i think that is where a vast number of students live.... You learn to make due on very little and all your friends do anyway so it's normal.  Plus you learn to share.   When I moved to Austin, one late night escaping all the shadows in San Antonio that i had created.... I got real jobs that paid for rents and food and extra - I became more spoiled.  A friend encouraged me to get a credit card and I rapidly fell into debt. It was so easy and I am so easily bequiled by thinking life is simple -- that little card that lets you get things for free.  (And eventually I realised it wasn't really free).  It took me awhile to clear off that debt and while I still have a credit card, it's severely limited and I rarely use it. So now heading to my 'golden years" (as someone once said although I can't imagine why) we (me and my SO) live much more simply. We live on our earnings as much as possible even though the SO thinks he could be the Big Lebowski and could get rich on a quick scheme or two.   I don't normally regret it except I never bought a house which I think I would like and I constantly am trying to figure out where I will be when I truly get old and feeble.

But I don't regret being poor and living simply. After Gene's mom died, we've become better at getting rid of things that clutter our physical house. (Both of us while not officially hoarders can be considered pack rats.) I truly think that as we declutter our house we are decluttering our inner selves as well.  I like that.

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