It Was Beautiful, And It Was Almost Paid-For
Part One – I Just Was, I Was Good
I grew up in a middle class family, very tight. We were kinda like a tribe. Very strict Catholic household, church on Sunday, Wednesday, Monday… and basically I had a normal upbringing and a very happy childhood. When I got out of high school, I went to the University of Houston where I majored in Biology.
Then I left and started working. Worked for 30 years, and I think I’ve had maybe four jobs. I was at the top of my department in every job I ever was at. I was always the best, and I don’t mean to… I’m not, you know… I just was, I was good.
And then, when I was 44, I had my stroke.
Part Two – I Kept Getting Lost
I blacked out for about 3 days, I don’t remember a thing. And then I slowly began to wake up and I had so much chest pains and I thought to myself, I’ve had a silent stroke. I know I have. That’s where my memory started to go a lot. I was a very shy person, I mean, you’d say “boo!” and I’d run in a corner, and now I became extremely confrontational.
I lost the ability to spell and to write. I kept getting lost. I couldn’t remember how to get to my job. The owner of the company decided to close shop, because we were a very small company. So, basically, I had like two week’s notice that I had no job at all.
Part Three – I’d Never Planned on Getting Sick.
I had a home in Richmond, Texas. I had it there for well over a decade, and I maintained it on my own. It was beautiful, and it was almost paid for. But then, I never planned on getting sick. We never do. I had my own apartment after I lost my house. With my memory, I couldn’t sustain a job. And, that’s when… I ended up like I am today.
Part Four – I Had No Idea Where I Was Going
I must’ve called fifty shelters trying to find somewhere I could stay for a while, until I figured out what’s going on. But there was nothing available. Absolutely nothing unless you were a drug addict or an alcoholic, which I am not. When I was still at the Salvation Army, they said “You’re not even in the first 300.” So I would have a long time to wait, and I thought I don’t know if I can survive the streets that long but you do what you gotta do.
Periodically, as I moved I would begin to lose big things because I didn’t have anywhere to put them. Basically all I had was a backpack of all my worldly belongings. I had no idea where I was going… I’m serious. You know when you’re homeless when you’re scrounging for a cardboard box and you’re walking across Main Street with it, trying to find a spot where you can lay your head. The thought of not knowing where your next meal is coming from? That’s pretty bad.
And the way that people look at the homeless, you know, it’s really bad. Because people are quick to be judgmental. Like, he ended up in this situation because she’s lazy, she doesn’t like to work. Or , she’s a drug addict or an alcoholic.
I am neither of those things.
Part Five – Where Do You Go Where It’s Safe?
I ended up wandering downtown, not knowing how I got there, or where I was, or what my name was. But I asked around a lot. I said: “Where do you go where it’s safe?” Then one day in January, I think this was the second year, suddenly I went from what would be 500 to number two. I can’t tell you the feeling that it was. They said: “We think we can get you in probably in a week or two.” And I couldn’t believe it. I thought, you know what, my birthday is on March 1st, I hope I get it on my birthday. It’d be a wonderful birthday gift and… and sure enough.
Part Six – I Was Back
I remember walking in thinking… o.k. I grew up around here. I was baptized at this Catholic church, got my first Communion here. And I was back. I signed my paperwork and she gave me my keys, and then she showed me my apartment and I said: God, Almighty. Is this really mine?