Why do these things keep happening to me?
That’s not a complaint. I’m not whining or asking for sympathy. I know that I have been blessed. I know that I have had a good life. The question is of the straight-forward, searching-for-answers variety that would bring understanding to my chronically crazy life. I am just looking for some perspective, some meaning for the series of strange events that have occurred in my life lately. Does everything really happen for a reason? If it does, than what has been the purpose of incidents happening in the last couple of years?
I can’t seem to stop living out of my car! For the past ten years, I have rented a variety of apartments throughout Southern California. Yes, it is true…I have moved about seven times since I arrived in Palm Springs, California, in October of 2004. I have moved so many times that one of my friends told me that she always dedicates a full page of her address book just to me because she knows she will have to make constant updates. She made the comment, “You move more than someone on the lam.” She’s right, I suppose. I do move around a lot. Is the change due to my constant restlessness and wanderlust? Actually, no….
There is a deep part of me that dreams of settling down somewhere. I dream of setting down roots, having a family, becoming a familiar face in the community. But circumstances have continually caused me to move, not into a house but into the bucket seats of my 2010 Toyota Scion.
Before the Scion was home, my main residence was a 2002 Toyota Tacoma. Every time I think of that pick-up truck, I get a horrible case of homesickness. I have more feelings of “Home” for that truck than any place I’ve ever lived in California. I have never stayed anywhere else long enough, I guess, to get attached to a particular structure.
I moved into my first California apartment in 2004. I was there for eight months until the owners decided to sell the property. I was told to either by the rundown, ‘70s decorated one-bedroom place or get out. I got out…and moved into my truck. My next apartment was a small studio where I stayed for almost two years until new management refused to repair leaky air conditioners, fix broken windows, and control the roach problem…and then doubled the rent! Back into the truck I moved. I stayed in the truck until I rented my next apartment in Oceanside, California. I had been offered a new position with higher pay. Within six months, however, the Oceanside company folded. Thankfully, my old job in Palm Springs took me back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t commute four hours a day nor pay for two separate apartments, so I stayed in my truck until the lease on the Oceanside apartment had ended.
The next apartment I had in Palm Springs was my favorite. I stayed there for almost two years until my mother moved to California and into the apartment with me. Suddenly, the studio apartment seemed much smaller. Mom and I didn’t move into my truck. Instead, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment that featured a multitude of lizards running around the courtyard. Little lizards were always waiting on the porch to greet us every time we opened the front door. Mom and I lived in that apartment for eight months until I lost my mother to colon cancer in March 2010. I couldn’t maintain a two-bedroom apartment by myself. I didn’t move back into the pickup this time. Instead, I was living in a 2010 Toyota Scion which had replaced the truck the year before. Man, I miss that truck!
Later, I moved into a one bedroom apartment determined that I would make it a home…which I did for two and a half years until mice moved into the walls. The owners of the building just laughed at me when I complained. “You’re living in the desert,” they said. “You’re going to have snakes, mice, lizards, and roaches in every apartment no matter how clean you keep it!” Oh, the apartment was also haunted. The manager couldn’t seem to explain away the spirits, which actually didn’t seem to bother me. My friend, Olga, always laughs at this incident. She says, “You stayed with the ghosts, but moved with the mice.” Well, yeah, mice are scary! Thank goodness, my car doesn’t have mice…or ghost.
My last California apartment was in Palm Desert where I lived for 18 months until more little critters chased me back into my Scion. Maybe I should have stood my ground and not little the creatures push me around. Maybe I should have demanded that the critters leave, especially since they weren’t paying rent. Being nervous about confrontations though, I ended up being the one to move out. I threw all of my things into storage and sadly moved back into my Toyota Scion, feeling like a complete failure.
My friend, Terry, helped me move the last of my possessions into the storage space on July 4th, Independence Day. I was really not happy about the situation when Terry placed the very last item into the bin and I shut and locked the door. My whole life awkwardly fit into a tiny 5 X 5 space.
Suddenly, Terry looked at me and said excitedly, “Oh my gosh! Happy Independence Day! You’re free!” I turned to look at her in surprise. “This is so great for you,” Terry continued to say. “I wish I was like you. Without the apartment and lots of possessions, you have no obligations. You’re so free. You don’t get held down by anything. You just travel and go whenever you want. What an amazing way to live!”
I stared at her for a moment. It was an interesting perspective she just presented to me. I could whine that I didn’t have a home or I could celebrate my freedom. It suddenly dawned on me that every time I switched apartments, I actually did celebrate. After I left the first apartment, I drove through Southwestern America. When I left the second apartment, I drove cross country to the Northeast. After the third, I think I ended up in Pacific Northwest. I suddenly began to think about all the great places I’ve been when I was in between homes. With freedom and my home life contained in my car, I usually just drove everywhere my wanderlust encouraged me. Now, my sudden new liberty was filling my head with dreams of the very last American state I had to visit—Alaska!
“Yeah,” I smiled back at Terry then, “you’re right. I do have a lot of freedom.”
“Independence! Happy 4th of July!” Terry cried as we hugged each other for a moment. “I want to be not only free but brave like you! I’m proud of you.”
And that’s maybe why I don’t have a home. Maybe that’s why these things keep happening to me. Maybe there is a reason, a purpose, a plan. Maybe I am supposed to be on the road discovering God’s beautiful land.
I’m not totally free. Alaska will have to wait a few more weeks because of my job. But as I lie down every night in the back seat of my Toyota Scion to sleep, I continue to dream of Alaska and my incredibly bright, unknown, unpredictable future and I know I am home.