Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not the Start I'd Envisioned

Prologue to earlier entry
3 September 2011, original date of writing
Transcribed from travel notebook

Wow where to begin...
So I have the first homeless night under my belt now. Didn't go as expected. Here's the cliffnotes from the days leading up to this memorable occasion:

  • August 28th: After getting only five hours of sleep the night before (packing for the big move-out) I woke up early to hit the paintball field with some friends. Put every ounce of energy I had into destroying the opposing team, and destroyed they were. Time was short, and I ended up going straight from the paintball field to my friends cabin a few hours north, at which point we all drank until I passed out. It gave me a few hours of sleep.
  • August 29th-30th: Lot's of drunk, very little sleep.
  • August 31st: Managed to get two hours of sleep on the way back from the cabin. Arrived to my place at 3pm and immediately started packing.
  • Sept 1: Still packing. Haven't stopped except to sleep 3 hours. I continued to pack until 3am Sept 2. To total it all up that's 10 hours of good sleep and 15 hours of drunk sleep over a period of five days going on six with a shitload of physical activity mixed in. This is where the story begins.


2 September 2011, original date of writing
Transcribed from travel notebook

To say I'm tired is an understatement, but the sun is out and, everything considered, life is pretty wonderful. Last night however was everything but.

After finishing moving the last of my furniture out of the house I was dead. Well worse than that, I was so exhausted I felt that death would have been an improvement. All my muscles ached, putting one foot in front of the other was a huge endeavor, and my mind had sucken into sleep-deprived delirium. Still I gathered my pre-packed backpack with all my camping gear and set out to find a place to sleep. After driving around for awhile I found a park down on the river I'd never been to before. I parked the car and went out to give it a look. It was 3:00am.

Stepping into the park I thought I'd found Eden. The trees at the park edge stood tall and stoic as their leaves whispered in the wind. The breeze itself carried with it the cool damp air from the river granting a welcome relief from the oppressive humidity. As I entered the park two young foxes leapt out onto the trail ahead me, so involved in their play they failed to see me. I stood for a moment and watched the kits chase each other through bushes and around trees. "I've made the right decision", I silently told myself. "If there were a sign that I've done the right thing, this is it". The kits ran off and I continued down the trail, descending into the dark unlit woods.

A cry shouted out in front of me immediately shook me out of my revelry. Another muffled yell- someone was in pain. I stood silent, wishing I had had the foresite to arm myself with something before going into an unlit park forest in the middle of the city. More noises ahead, rhythmic now. My eyes adjusted to the dark and I managed to make out a couple in front of me, the woman bent over a park bench and the guy behind her. Yuck. No way I could set up here, not after seeing that. As I turned around to leave the sharp snap of a twig gave me away. I stopped in my tracks, still hoping I could get out of there unnoticed. I was out of luck. "Oh my god someone's watching us!" the girl began to yell. I started walking again, letting the girls hysterical voice fade away as I came out of the woods and back into the spotlights on the street. 3:30am. The search continues.

Not long after I found a second situable location. It was a small community with a giant hill placed in the middle of a flat field. The hill looked decidedly out-of-place in what was otherwise a completely flat neighborhood. Not quite as picturesque as the first place but in a pinch it would do. Plus it had been left partially wooded and seemed like a good spot to dissapear in. After climbing the hill I found the summit crisscrossed with running trails, leaving me no flat area to lay down on without running the risk of being found by an early morning runner. Halfway down the hill I found a tree that offered a fair share of cover while also decreasing the steep slope to something near-managable. The mosquitos there were terrible, so bad it literally took effort to avoid breathing them in, but with my legs ready to give out at any second it was an easy decision to set up there. I layed out my foam pad and hung up the mosquito net from the tree. With no delay I climbed inside and was asleep seconds later.

I awoke about an hour later to find the lower half of my body outside of the net covered by mosquitos. Apparently my body had been slowly sliding down the hill as I slept, and now I had quite a few bites to show for it. I crawled back into the net and returned to my sleep, only to wake up a short time later to the same problem. By now my legs had received roughly four dozen mosquito bites. I tried to go back into the net to get more sleep, but by now I couldn't help but feel like bugs were crawling all over me. It was clear I wasn't going to get much more sleep here, so I packed my stuff up and returned to my car. It was drawing near to 5:30 am and the night sky had already begun to lighten. It was time to abandon the camping idea and car camp.

I drove around for awile before finding an out-of-the-way street that dead ended on a railroad. It was low income, but didn't seem dangerous, and there were a few mixed cars on the street. Enough cars that my car wouldn't stick out, but with enough space that I could park and sleep without fear of being noticed by the people going out to their cars in the morning. It seemed perfect. I reclined my seat and once again was lights out within seconds.

I awoke around 8:30 to the sun streaming into my face and a fresh breeze rolling through the windows. Still far from well-rested I miracously felt wonderful. This warm sun beating down on me symbolized the dawn of a new life. The transition was over, I was free. Good time to head to the closest diner and celebrate over an omelet and coffee. Smiling I put the keys into the ignition and turned. Click... nothing. I turned turned them again to the same response. I had forgotten to turn the lights off. Dead battery. No worries, I had an emergency jumper in the trunk for just this occasion. I took it out and plugged it in. Still nothing. A quick check of the emergency jumper made it clear that it too was dead. No time for celebrating yet.

I began the long walk back to my old house, heavy battery jumper in my backpack, to retrieve my motorcycle which was still parked there. The plan I had in mind was to get on the motorcycle, drive it to my rented storage place, find the A/C adapter for the jumper, charge it up, then bring it back to the car. After walking roughly two miles I arrived at the place I had moved out of only a few hours before. Already dreading the sleep deprived ride on my motorcycle, I shook myself awake and climbed on. I hit the ignition button. "Wrrrrr... ". No way. "Wrrrrrrrrrr... click". It was dead. How it died I have no idea, but I imagine that at the moment some divine being was watching me and laughing.

In the end I had to borrow my previous landlord's truck, drive back out to my car, jump it, drive the truck back to the house, and finally walk the two miles back. Once I was finally back to my car I drove it to the nearest park, laid a blanket in the shade of a tree, and I slept. And slept. And slept.

It might seem like a bad night. It was. It might seem like a brutal morning. It was. But do you know what? It didn't matter. Deep in that sleep I was content. I was finally free.

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