It's good to be home again

It's good to be home again

When a tragic accident changes your life forever, being home makes you feel safe. This story from the upcoming play “The Homeless Monologues” shows how against all odds, someone can go home again.

My story goes back to the good old days. It was a simpler time…at least it seems that way now.

Before Chicago started calling their train lines by colors, they had different names and stopped at different stations. The Red Line used to be the A and B trains. If you wanted to go to the Cubs game, you’d get on the B train and it would stop at Addison.

The windows on those trains opened. You could lift them up and get fresh air. The train also ran close to the buildings on their routes….especially around the Sheridan stop, where the track curves. You could put your arm out the window and touch the building. At least you could if you had enough nerve to do it. It was dangerous. A lot of boys talked about doing it, but they always chickened out. Turns out they were smarter than me.

I doubled down. I stuck my head out the window. How cool would it be to have my head come so close to that building? I didn’t count on the stop light being in the way. BAM!

I ended up in the hospital. I ended up in a coma for three months. My life hasn’t been the same since that day. A silly, stupid accident disabled me for life.

I lived with my mother all of my life. Lincoln-Belmont-Ashland area. They call it West Lakeview now. I worked as a grocery store bagger. Simple job, simple life. No stress. Just how I like it.

Then, my mother died. I needed somewhere less expensive to live. I found an SRO in Lincoln Park. Clark Street. I moved in there. It wasn’t as good as being home, but it was fine.

I started having some money problems. I got behind on my rent. One day, there was a paper in my mailbox. It was a five day notice from the SRO. I didn’t know what that meant. There was no one to ask about it. I thought they were throwing me out in five days. I ran. I left before they could kick me out. I left all my things in the room.

I moved in with friends. The rent was more than the SRO. They also made me do all the chores. Dishes, laundry, cleaning, garbage…you name it, I did it there. They took advantage of me but at least I had a place to live.

After a year, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back to the SRO. I was hoping they would let me come back. It turned out to be better. There was a shelter down the street. They said to come right over. They told me about their program and what living there would be like. I was told to be back tomorrow at 10am and be ready to move in. The only problem was what would I do tonight? Where would I stay?

The only place I could go was the local hospital. I went to the emergency room. I figured I could sleep there. But, it was really noisy. Sick people and gun shots. People were screaming and crying. I was so scared. I never fell asleep. I’ve never been so happy to see morning. I know they told me to be at the shelter at 10, but I got there at 8:30. I was ready to move in.

I was living at the shelter and settling in. My life was getting back to normal. Things were pretty good. But, I’m fairly independent. I like to do things for myself. During my free time, I’d go back to the old neighborhood. It made me feel better. It reminded me of my old life. It was home.

One day, I saw this apartment building. It looked nice. It was just a few block away from my old house. I wondered if I could live there?

When I went back to the shelter, I told my case manager about the building. I told her it was my dream home. She helped me check it out. Turns out it’s a senior housing building. You have to be over fifty-five years old to live there. That’s me. They take a small percentage of your income for rent. That could work for me, too. Was it possible I was going to be able to live there?

It took a few months and we had a lot of paperwork to do, but we got it done! I’m living in my new apartment! I’m living my dream!

I’ve been there a year. My home is great. It’s a studio apartment but it’s all mine. I have a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, heat and a tv. I don’t need anything else. There’s a Target down the street. I like going there. I spend a lot of time there. I’m happy.

What’s great is I’m in my old neighborhood again. I walk outside and I know where everything is. I walk outside and I remember all the places that used to be there when I was a kid. I walk outside and remember my mom. It’s good to be home again.

This is another piece in the series Faces of Homelessness

Related Post: I finally got my key

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    Every five years or so I decide to update this section. I can't believe I've been doing this for close to ten years. The last time I did this I was close to sixty years old. Now I'm just a few months away from the big 7-ZERO. Scary AF!!! I'm pretty sure I won't be doing an update when I hit 80, but you never know. But until then, lets just be grateful.

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