As of about 1 pm-ish on September 19th, I had signed the lease on my new apartment. This ends a period of homelessness that began with a full scale crouching-behind-the-bushes-sobbing nervous breakdown on December 18th of last year. From that day to this week, I stayed on couches or borrowed beds all up and down the west coast. Some times were better than others. When I managed to stay with family, things were usually pretty good, but there were a few solid months there where I would have considered living in the proverbial van down by the river to be a significant upgrade. I never slept on the streets, but at times it was a pretty near thing.
Even during the good times, I was always acutely aware of being homeless. Sleeping in one of my father’s spare bedrooms doesn’t sound like it counts as homelessness, and indeed it was a vast improvement over Thrillhouse, but even in the best of times the helplessness gnawed at me, as did the shame. I’ve nearly killed myself on three significant occasions this year. I was suicidal so often I developed a new taxonomy to describe the various flavors of suicidal ideation. I’ve had periods of strained relationship with nearly every member of my family. I’ve had the unique, um, joy, of realizing that I had become a parasite on the people I care most about. I’ve noticed myself becoming at once more empathetic and more callous, acutely feeling other people’s suffering and then deliberately turning away from it in a way I didn’t do before. My planning horizon for major life decisions was, at one point, habitually set to about 48 hours, because that’s as far as I could reasonably predict what I would be doing, or in what city I would be.