Happily Homeless. I’ve had a few comments recently about this. How politically incorrect it is. How I’m not really homeless. The name is offensive. Which started me thinking. Which I like to do.
Our name was suggested to Handsome Husband in our second year of travel, in discussion with a friend. We’d sold our house and goods and lived on the road permanently, staying at military bases and inexpensive hotels. Living very simply on his Air Force retirement. (Which, for those of you who think veterans live on a lot of money, think again. He was a retired MSgt and it supported both of us.) And this friend said “So, basically, what you do is drive around and have fun. You’re happily homeless!” The name appealed to me and so my blog and our facebook page was christened.
We chose to sell our house and belongings and be on the road. Hence the “happily” part of homeless. Not everyone makes that choice-the choice is made for them. So they’re unhappily homeless and it’s a terrible thing. I get that.
Which brings me to the question: “What does homeless mean? And does each person define it according to their own particular current and past history?”
My beloved husband and I traveled together for 4 years. We sold our home without a backward glance-it was only a place and all the memories of it were stored in our hearts and minds. We stayed at hundreds of bases and posts and hotels and the only thing that mattered to me was being with him. Well, that and hoping each place had a good shower and comfortable bed. But that wasn’t always the case and that was still okay because guess what? He was my home and I was his. The physical bricks and stone idea of home meant nothing to us. We loved our time together. We drove and we talked and we hiked and we discussed and we laughed and we adventured and we argued and we made love wherever we were and we blessed each day with each other.
We had a 3 month condo rental leased in southern CA last year and that was a long-term stay home for us that we really anticipated. Except that he was already sick and at the end of March I took him to the ER and he was immediately checked into the hospital. He never came home to me again. Hospice was it and we decorated his room to be his last home, filling it with as much warmth and color and love as we could. I called our kids and our friends and the condo became home for everyone as they came and went. It was a refuge and I remember going back there one morning and seeing the couches and chairs with sheets and blankets scattered over them and the inflatable mattresses on the floor, accommodating so many loved ones and I thought how beautiful the mess and chaos was.
He died. Everyone left to return to their own lives and I hated the condo. All it brought to mind was my last vision of him painfully walking up the stairs when we arrived, and carefully balancing down the stairs the morning I took him to the ER. I became obsessed by the light at the top of the mountain that I could see in the distance, looking from the window of the sun room.
I left there early, unable to sustain the pain, and yet overcome with pain at abandoning him, leaving behind the last place he and I had been home together. Drove to Arizona and two of our kids. I stayed with each of them briefly, and then spent a month at the last place he’d reserved for us before he got sick; a beautiful condo in Phoenix but for the first time I truly felt homeless. Not because I physically was but because the man who was my home was dead.
As the months passed and I traveled back East and then North, I knew I had to do something to have a permanent home. I also knew I wanted to stay on the road. Indeed, needed to stay on the road in order to fulfill the PinkMagic Odyssey of scattering Handsome Husband’s cremains in our favorite spots around the country and because I’d go fucking insane waking up in the same place every morning with him not there. I discovered T@b trailers and a life on the road, camping. I bought a T@b and began refurbishing the inside to be an oasis and a safe place for my heart and my soul. Not quite a home, but a familiar place that was mine.
Which brings me to my present. I’m learning how to do this, my new life. My confidence is growing in my towing abilities and living this life that I never wanted. It’s all good but it is so surreal to me.
I’m surrounded, purposefully, in pink. Not because I think it’s a cute color. It’s a color of strength to me, and joy. I need to find joy again. Before Handsome Husband died, he told me he didn’t expect me to wear black. Didn’t want me to wear black. Pink, he said. It’s your color. Wear pink. Mourn for me in pink. I wear pink every day, in one sort of clothing or another. I’ve named my car and my T@b trailer PinkMagic.
I still call myself Happily Homeless. The name is one he and I had together and I’ll always keep it but I can’t own up to the happily part. I’m more surviving right now. I have a trailer to call home and I’m out here on the road and it probably looks exciting to anyone looking on. Yeah, sure. Look more deeply. Look into my eyes to see the grief and the, yes, look of homelessness.
In spite of this trailer, (and I’m grateful to have it), going with my definition of home, I consider myself homeless because the man who was my home is no longer with me. The shelter of his arms was my home. His kiss was my home. His strong body next to me was home. The joy in my life is no longer-there is, instead, grief and dislocation and discombobulation. There is a hole in my heart and a missing-ness in my soul. (And please, please don’t tell me how I should be instead and what I need to focus on instead, etc, etc. It means nothing to me to hear that.)
In the end, tell me-what does define home for any one person? A physical place? A building? A state? A state of mind?
Everyone has their own concept and perception. You just read mine.
I hope to find the “Happily” part again someday. In the meanwhile, I don’t care about political correctness or what others think, not only about my chosen name but about how I’m doing any of this. This is my life. I’m defining and creating it and surviving it and hoping to bygod someday, thrive in it again.