Saturday, February 15, 2014

what the hell

Today I'm homeless.

My daughter Lizz (may God bless her heart!) is doing all the work to get me moved from my condo to what used to be called a retirement home. Her only condition for taking all this on was that, in the actual process of moving, I had to NOT BE THERE. (She's right, of course, if I were there I'd just be wringing my hands, feeling useless, and projecting this nervous sense of ill-at-ease all over everything, contributing nothing positive to the process.) This means that I can't be at my old place and I can't be at my new place, hence I'm homeless.

I'm spending several hours at the church where I'm treasurer, doing things I haven't had time to do for a couple weeks, but it also puts me in the company of the numerous homeless people who consider the church a refuge. "Got no place to get out of the rain? Hang out at St. Stephen's!" (I would not have made that connection myself, but the Paul, the Minister for Outreach, made it for me, and it's too damned good not to pass along.)

So why am I moving?

The proximate cause is that my water heater died, in the process flooding my bedroom. This required the removal and disposal of the carpeting in my bedroom. This meant the eventual replacement of the carpeting in my bedroom, which meant the replacement of the carpeting in my condo, and if I'm already that far into making it ready to sell, what the heck, why not go ahead and sell?

But why not replace the carpeting and live in a condo with new carpeting? Well, I'm 70. I'm arthritic, diabetic, obese, and increasingly isolated because it's so much easier just to stay in my pajamas and play minesweeper on the computer. My mother died of Alzheimers, and I know there are periods when my brain seemed stuck in first gear. As my friend Tony suggested, I'm feeling like I'd be safer in a "fenced yard". And since that is almost certainly somewhere in my future, I decided to choose which fenced yard I'd do the rest of my living in.

Coincidentally, some friends from church gave me a tour of the place they're living, Terwilliger Plaza. I expected to dislike it, and I was wrong. The energy is great, the services are outstanding, the residents seem lively-minded and friendly, and it's still downtown. I have a small (576 sq. ft.) one-bedroom apartment that looks out at Portland's West Hills. Not in the "provides a sweeping landscape vista" sense of "looks out at", more the "I look out my windows and see a rock wall that is the geologic skeleton of the West Hills" sense. The wall is covered with wire fencing to save the driveway below from falling rocks, but it is also covered by a variety of vines which protect the nests of small birds that I  have seen dart in and out. The view from my condo was of another condo. The rock wall is definitely a step up.

Oh, I do wish I could take a nap.

And as I wrote that, the church doorbell rang. I am not responsible for answering the door, but I did. Outside was a garrulous old man missing most of his teeth who tried to get me to give him a coat or feed him or let him come in ("You're a Christian, aren't you? You're supposed to help people like me!"). The Jesuit volunteer working with one of the groups that rents from our church came out from their office and saved me with good, clean assertiveness. "Fuck you", the guy said as he stomped away. His hoodie was soaking wet, and his hair clung dripping to his scalp. He was old and cold and wet and probably wished he could take a nap somewhere warm and dry and safe. I should at least have given him the last of three oatmeal raisin cookies I bought with my Subway sandwich.


  1. Thanks for sharing this experience. I am looking forward to hearing your reports - plus I love to read anything you write!

  2. Once settled in, I think you're going to love it. So happy you have Lizz and Jim, the "git 'er done" twosome!