Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Down and Out in Seattle

  Life wasn’t always good for me. I struggled through the early 90’s living homeless for a while.  It wasn’t the kind of normal homeless you would expect. It really is a misconception to think that being homeless means sleeping on the street or in a park.  I slept in an abandoned house through a winter in Seattle. The house was had no electricity or heat. For some of the coldest days I could remember.
  I went to college those last few months finishing one last quarter before giving up on Seattle. My Grandpa died and my aunt past not long after, the weight of the deaths, college and the general fact that I had no home. Caused me to leave Seattle and never look back.  I can remember waking up in my room and my hair was stuck to the window seal, frozen from the moisture of my breath and the freezing temperature from outside. This was in stark contrast to how it was in my parent’s home, Warm and inviting. They had no knowledge of just how bad my living conditions had become.
  It started a house sitting job but once I moved into one of the bedroom. Things started to go down hill. I lost the gas first. The bill was so large that the gas company would turn it back on even in my name. The power went off when I was visiting my parents. I came home to the rotting smell of bad meat.
  I dumped it into the Garbage and it sat there for almost a week. By the time the garbage men came round to pick it up. It was almost unbearable. The men throw the cans up onto the lawn and never picked up the garbage again.  That is how the garbage collection stopped.
  Water was the last to go, a pipe broke and water filled the garage. I turned it off for the last time one day before school.
  When you live this way, you must rethink how you live. There are things you take for granted, water to wash your hand, water to flush the towel, heat to stay warm, and lights to see by.  I struggled at first but soon figured out ways around this.  I was still going to College. My grades never looked better. I left early, and went to a Texaco for breakfast. I had a gas card and would use it to eat breakfast and dinner.
  I would get to school early around 7 am and head to the gym. I didn’t want anyone knowing how bad it was getting so I would workout in the weight room each day and shower there at school. I can remember those showers the hot water, the chance to feel warm again.
  My day ended up like most, I would go to class and stay late doing my homework in the library. It was small for a college Library but I like the fact I was warm. It was a stark difference from how I was in high school. I left the library and headed to Kim’s Tae Kwon Do school. I worked there for a little extra money. It was nice to stay warm. I would sell memberships and workout for free. Master Kim knew that I had trouble and helped as much as he could. He even let me stay a few nights there in the storage room. The school was a lonely place. By the time my Grandpa died I was starting to get used to living in the abandoned house. Eating where I could and struggling to get home each week. My dad never really knew how bad it was until he got a phone call from a school counselor.
  I had made a mistake. I had seen a sign in his office window. It said counselor. He was a job counselor for the college. I walked in and broke down on his desk. He was very understanding and if he would have sent me any where else I would have jumped from bridge. He took my under his wing so to speak.
  The man informed my father of my slight nervous break down I was experiencing in his office. When I had told him of my problems the man behind the desk thought I was trying to leave school. I just needed some one to talk to about what I was going through. He called up my records and found I had a 3.5 average. He called one of my teachers and she told him that I was her best student. (I was never sure which one that he had called.) He wanted to take me home. (200 miles, Back to Sunnyside)  I told him I wanted to stay and finish my finals. I did well and soon I was on my way home.  I never went back to graduation, never went back to sell my books. That last day there was spent picking up my stuff and saying goodbye to my friends and Master Kim.
  I look at Seattle and miss it sometimes. Those years had taught me something about life that still comes into play all these years later. Like the people that went through the Great Depression I was changed.  I have made mistakes and it wasn’t the last time I was homeless, but it made me a better person and very frugal. I have my house now to thank for it. I also have the skill to see what is on my financial future. I saw the housing crises coming before my country fell in the 'Great Recession.' I was even able to buy a house while everyone was losing their’s. (I didn’t by a fore-closer, the house sell made money.)
  When I se trouble coming I circle my wagons. Budgeting my bills, paying down on my credit cards and saving every bit of extra cash I can. It all adds up. When the savings is gone I will switch to credit. When the credit is gone. I will have thought of something else to do from money. Even if it is just to keep the lights on, the gas coming, and the water flowing.

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