Monday, 4 March 2013

From sofa-surfer to homeless hosteller...

Things have been Ker-ay-zeeee since Barney posted a little something at the back-end of last month.

After 18 months of prevailing upon my friends and family stealing their warmth; hugging their cats; eating their food; wearing holes in their carpets, sofas and spare beds (and sometimes their clothes and definitely their patience); and clogging their plugholes with head-hair of varying shades of black/red/purple and of entering into yet more battles with my crazy-assed body I caved in.

Little bit by little bit, you understand...

First, I had to address my ridiculously persistent pains and dizziness that had caused so much aggro in the Michaelmas Term.

As a result, next I had to drop the studying, although my College, a place that has a remarkably high number of compassionate and wise academic staff and creative administrators, have made every measure possible to ensure that I remain enrolled and registered and studying one module (so that I do not go completely mad with boredom - oh the irony!) for the remainder of this academic year. Go lovely Heethronions!

And then over the Christmas vacation...

I finally admitted to myself that I am, in fact, a homeless person.

At first I was fully resolved to go this Borough or that Borough in Londinium, because I have friends and my Church family there, I study there and I have lived there for almost 15 years. I would do this first thing in the anno nova.  Definitely staying in London.

Christmas Day was spent with the Shteebious, Sir Merrickus, Buttonski and the Depressed Weirdo, not forgetting MonkeyPodge either. It was a fabulous day of much eating, good conversation, silly hats, wind-up santas and the obligatory Christmas-present movie, this time it was Shteebious' one:  and joy of joys, the DW & I did not get fleeced by the cab company to get home to maul the Psycho and the Macavitas.

Boxing Day was quiet. The DW went out. The Loris stayed in. As I fell asleep that night I had an epiphany.

I awoke thinking that maybe I had finally taken leave of my senses. But no, the thought of the night before remained: I should move to Bournemouth to get all the health stuff, if not sorted then at least under treatment/management, and then aim to move again in a year or 18 months' time. I talked it through with DW over tea (me) and coffee (DW). I felt a peace I'd not felt in months. Arse. I don't want to live in Bournemouth. I don't know why. It's quite nice there really. Well, I would think more about it, but studying in London meant that looking for s/where to live in London made more sense, surely? I flew out the door to get to Victoria, and only just managed to get on the coach. Bloody buses...

On the coach the reality of the epiphanos - the light-bulb-moment - sank in. But I didn't really want it to. I have a fabulous family in London. GU is my home. But the call to stay in Bournemouth would not go away.

God clearly has something up his enormous sleeve, but I am not happy. I get off the coach and sit silently in the car until I get to the Mothership. Then as we make tea together I tell Mater that maybe it would make sense for me to stay in Bournemouth whilst all the consultant appointments and scans and so on are going on so I might need help to figure out getting housing-help down there. The look of relief on her face pulled at my chest. So yes. God is up to something here...

2013 dawned on us and then the drive to get to the housing office kicked in. A friend from StS Church, known as B-U-Mmy (yes, v funny), offered to take me to actually go and declare myself homeless. I was terrified.

It turns out my fears were unfounded. Both the officers we saw were lovely, kind and not at all patronizing or dismissive. In fact they were super-efficient. I left having filled in two forms and been given an appointment for the following week for an assessment interview.

The following week I had my interview, was asked if I would consider going into a hostel and (after seeing a look of terror flit behind my eyes) was offered the opportunity to view the hostel the housing officer (HO) would place me in and told it would only be temporary but would mean I would get a support worker much more quickly. An appointment was duly made to view the hostel the very next day. I left feeling a bit scared, but fairly well filled with hope and expectation.

The Rotty (as some people call the lovely woman who works at the hostel) was incredibly understanding of all of the processes by which I came to be 'homeless' (and she told me to stop with the speech marks, and that I am a REAL homeless person, not a pretend one!) and said that I'd be fine in the hostel. But no rooms at that time, but I asked to go on their list and was told I'd get a call as soon as a room came up.

I was expecting to wait for ages. Exactly one week later (a Friday), BOOM! (in true Danny Messer style) - I got my room at m'hostel, M'H. The following Tuesday I met my Floating Support Worker, and here at the end of my first full week there* I have already seen two flats (both rejected as the landlords say no to people of benefits *GRRRR*) and have more lined up to see at the weekend.

(* actually, this was posted just as I entered my third week in the hostel! - my brain is on the blink, clearly...)

On the day I got the call to move in to the hostel I sent out a desperate prayer request message to several peoples. The response was overwhelming and most messages had me in tears... (All good though, guys, thanks!)

Since then, the emotions that have been running riot in my head have ranged from fear to helplessness to joy to frustration and all stages between. I've laughed, I've cried, I've been grouchy and snappy and I've especially been worshipping God and singing back in Praise! I am knackered! But content.

Today I decided to consider this another adventure, not just a stepping stone, but a little extra-dollop-of-craziness adventure along life's already rocky road. Then I remembered that Jesus was 'homeless' in a "no-place-to-call-his-own" kind of way but that didn't mean squat to him. He was on a mission and he knew that this world is not our real home. We are all homeless, vagrant people in this world. Yet in the 'flesh' we still need somewhere to lay our head that is safe, and a shelter from the elements, so we are back to hunting down flats...  Today, as I washed some dishes, and contemplated the differences in spiritual, physical and legal perceptions of homelessness, I heard the disciples asking Jesus where he stayed, and he said, "Come and see!"... but there is no notion of where they went but I suspect it was a mud extension on his mother's house with a sack of straw in the corner to sleep on.

Oh yes, Jesus is definitely up to something.



  1. All the cool kids have been homeless ;) You've taken in a fair few and your good deeds will be repaid! An adventure indeed! xx

  2. hehehe, sooo true! Yes, I have, haven't I?! I did remind the Cheeses of this recently, actually - well, amongst the snot and tears and fury on a particularly low day... Saw a promising place today, so keep on praying! xx