On Being Homeless Again
A week ago today, I became homeless for the second time.
The first time, I did it on purpose and had never imagined that I’d do something like that. Now I’m in the same position without any of the control or guidance like I did back then. In October 2013, I decided to make myself homeless, walking away from a 200 square-foot cottage cocoon in Rappahannock County,Virginia. The decision was made, in part, because I had felt that cocoon pushing me out in the same manner it had welcomed me in two years prior but the larger component of the decision-making process was the need to follow the visions that had begun coming to me. It was clear, though I did not understand why I was to go to where I was being led, that I was being led very purposefully and in the most unambiguous manner. It was also clear that I could not traipse around the country following visions while trying to figure out how to pay rent. I was already struggling with the latter and as illogical as it seemed, because if I could not manage rent, how was I going to manage gasoline, food and other lodging?
The decision to chose no-home was easier than I let on to others. I have never had the experience of home as many describe it. Yes, there have been places I lived, physical structures that were warm and inviting and safe, especially to others because I created that intentionally. I have loved several of the places I have lived but here I’m talking about the experience of home. There is not a place I love more than any other (though there’s one I detest). There are vistas that make me cry every time I see them, ground that calls my name and peoples that call me home and I’ve fallen so in love with a mountain that no man has a chance. However, I’ve never known a real love for a piece of ground or physical place. I’ve never known that sense of home.
I once read a column in the New York Times by Richard Cohen in which he shared this: In an essay in the London review of books called “On Not Going Home, ” James Wood asked Christopher Hitchens, long before he was terminally ill, where he would go if he only had a few weeks to live. Would he stay in America? “No, I’d go to Dartmoor, without a doubt”…the landscape of his childhood…It was the landscape, in other words, of unfiltered experience, of things felt rather than thought through, of the world and its beauty absorbed before it is understood, of patterns and sounds that lodge themselves in some indelible place in the psyche and call out across the years. In other words, a place where one feels deeply connected.”
I have never had that deep connection to a place. As a youngster that felt I did not belong, no matter where I was, and felt exiled long before I chose to be, for me, and home was not a landscape. It was a muddy gray block of abstract to be escaped. My early years were fraught with the pain and fear home represented. Perhaps that in itself made it easier to make myself homeless in October 2013. Although I loved the space I was in, I had felt myself being pushed out and there was no attachment to where home should be or where it might be.
I do not remember exactly when visions begin arriving back then. Or when I understood that what I was seeing behind my closed eyelids was more than just a dream or flights of fancy to entertain my brain while the rest of me slept. However, the one that inspired me to begin moving into the service of the visions was astonishingly and unmistakably clear. Served up dream-style, in it I was driving through a suburb somewhere, slowly but not slow enough to actually come to a stop. As I cruised through an intersection the sign on a pole said what I thought was “Trapp Falls Road”. Slowly motoring past the sign I said to my invisible traveling companion, “Hey, I think that’s the way.”
Sure enough, I drove right past it and ended up at a dead end at big water. I said to no one because my passenger had entirely disappeared, “Fuck. Yep, that’s the right way.” And, within the seconds of saying that, the passenger reappeared only, this time at my bedside, showing up to hold my hand in reality as if to say, “Well, let’s go!” I was excited enough to get up before the sun and turned on the computer, opened Google maps and started investigating. There was a Trapp Falls Road in Gardiner, NY but that didn’t feel right. The second option was Trapp Falls Road (where I needed to turn left) and big water (large reservoir) in Shelton, Connecticut. There was no hint or any kind of clarity about why I was going, but I knew I was not being shown these things for nothing. I also knew there was not space to say no. I left as soon as my dog sitting job was over. Interstate 66, to I-496, to I-95 to an Airbnb in Connecticut.
I met my hosts the next day and we began to chat. Guess who worked on Trapp Falls Road before they left the corporate world? Yep. Guess who’d been asking for help to come? “I prayed for help two weeks ago.” Clearly, she didn’t know who was going to come or how they were going to show up but there I was, proof that prayers could be heard and answered. It was a first for me, as well. I’d never given much consideration (as an adult, anyway) that prayers could be heard and answered. However, that interaction, combined with a fit of pique at my then-landlord, led me to decide that I was going to give my things away and cross the country without any income or place to call home. In that fit of pique, “Fuck it! I’m just going to do it!” flew out of my mouth. At the moment, I was house sitting and because the homeowners were returning the following the day, I’d made a dump run. When I walked into the house upon returning, I opened my email to find a note: “We are going to be staying in New York for the month of November. Would our place be useful for you?” Cue the beginning of learning trust. Now, despite the fact that I had been visited by God twice, I did not believe believe in him in the way others talk about prayers being heard. However, whether I believed or not, this was a clear sign that I had just made the right decision and somebody had actually heard me cursing and grumbling while I was on a dump run. The first round of letting go of all my things progressed swiftly from there.
I learned to drop all expectations of how I thought any outcome should appear or assess, analytically speaking, what it was or should be about (or so I thought). I embarked on the journeys because I knew I must. Anything less was not an option. I did not feel like I was ‘obeying’ a higher or external power. I just knew I had to go. Sometimes there was a clear ‘push’, other times a ‘pull’ and sometimes an inner knowing that obscured any ideas of ‘I can’t’.
For six years, each of these trips to here, there, and beyond all boundaries was always in answer to someone’s prayers; those of Ancestors for their breathing kin, the ground for release, rocks to be sung or bled awake, and to bring burgeoning healers all the way through. Until January 2019, when I had another fit of pique and told the Gods that they needed to do something to help me because I could go no longer. I could travel no more. My tank was more empty than my car’s had ever been.
In response, I was directed, in something of a roundabout way, to Telluride, Colorado. I’ve been in the region since The Dream Lady said, “I have a place. You can stay here and I can leave the dogs with you when I travel.” Finally!! Someone had heard my own prayers and answered them. Finally!! Help for me in the same way I’d helped others.
I drove into Telluride on January 21, 2019, to find The Dream Lady. If she’d been here 51 years like she claimed, everyone local would know her. They didn’t but here I was. So close to where I was to be yet so far because I didn’t know where between these mountains the place to be was; except I could feel it. It was a solid as the driver’s seat under my butt. It was a loud as the radio static: “Here!” I drove into town that afternoon to a mountainous embrace, one the nearly mimicked that of Hesperus in 2014 when she said, “Where have you been? You’re home! You’re home!” When I had to leave town that night, I was literally pulled back by forces of nature that said, “Come back! Come back!” And I wept. Because here I was, here I was where I’d been sent, where I’d been seen and, perhaps, found by yet another (or others) who’d called me home.
None of this was much different than had unfolded from 2013 on with the exception of the potential of my own prayers being heard and answered. I’d spent those six years hearing, “We’re the People of the Sun. Come home” and “Here she is! She’s Home!” coming from the backs of red-tailed hawks and mountain peaks so being welcomed or called home was nothing new to me, even without an intellectual or emotional connection to a space or place.
It’s different now. Now, even though I don’t know where this specific physical space is, this place the heart can call home, wants to come home to, I can feel it. It’s a solid to me as the hotel bed that’s under my butt. It’s strength (the place, notsomuch the bed) and safety and openness to me and all that I am is there. It visits me in quiet moments of night or in the morning. Two summers ago, I looked out at a particular peak and said aloud, “I don’t know when it was I walked out of these mountains but they birthed me.” Though it makes no sense to others, it’s the foundation, they are the foundation of my heart; the very thing that has created the potential of all that I am and am meant to be.
The visions that led up to this round of homelessness were as solid as those that led me to intentionally chose it nearly nine years ago; were enough to create a level of trust and buttressed by experiences of what I now call the ‘sensation of well-being’. In a discussion with a friend, I recalled spending those years on the road in constant stress mode, not knowing how my basic needs were going to be met, but each time they were, even if I didn’t like how they were met. “Why not, for shits and grins, I not stress out this time? Why don’t I just try on trusting that I’ll be taken care of without the freak-out?”
Visions and visitations of people and spaces told me that it was being taken care of, that space was ‘under construction’, my favorite harrier showed me my birdhouse and I trusted.
Those of us whose formative years were comprised of regular, repeated and systemic abuse each have developed a way of feeling safe as we move through adulthood. Some develop great skill at creating order & control of behavior. Some channel those survival skills through artistry and working with others who share similar backgrounds. Some escape all the baggage that comes with it through self-medicating in a number of ways, some learn how to trust incrementally and others choose not to. I thought I’d learned trust. Until last Monday when every aspect of my nervous system & psyche into a tailspin of epic proportions and left me with a short inventory of choices. Where there had been physical security & potentiality of community, there now was none. Where there was possibility of soft space, place to hold my tender heart and a way to engage that with giving more freely, there was none. Where there was home, there was none. Yet again, I’d been disappeared. Just like I had been for my first eighteen years. Just like I’ve done myself the past few years as I travel. Stay in a place and leave no visible trace of my being there. Like camping but not.
A couple of the things I teach others are: move even if you don’t trust and then trust even when you can’t move. Finding myself again and again in that position has been a strange one. I had been made homeless as easily as I’d been re-homed and did not know how to trust and how to not do so-a conundrum that my tenderness couldn’t fathom. I wondered if it was because I had become so exhausted, so numbed to it all, that what I was feeling wasn’t actually trust but through-the-bone tiredness. I could not bring myself to be bitter for long but where I did go was to second-guessing everything. Second-guessing my own need for community, trust of others in the skin and not; questioning the guidance to people & places, the intentions associated with them; doubting the inner voices of mine & the outer voices of others. All while my mind and body were trying to dance through the inner conflict. Broken heart, broken spirit, and a bull terrier nature seemed more tang-led than tan-go. I tried to remember and share with others, always, that we’re in this together–to behave and engage as it is the only universal truth there is. I found myself, though, wondering how true that really is or how it can be when folks don’t know how to do this ‘thisness’ together. Or, frankly, whether I wanted to be part of it if I’m merely an independent agent floating through the universal flotsam of humanness.
I’m better now. There’s no longer the desire to die. There is the deep desire, though; the deep knowing, the through-the-marrow knowing, that home is here. I am not leaving these mountains. This is where I was born, this is where I will live. I don’t know how however, I can maintain the trust-not trust conundrum until the space that, even now, holds my heart and I meet. I now can feel the experience of home, even though I’m not there and I’m not leaving it.
Though I am safely ensconced in a hotel room, I need help getting into a new space. Whether it’s 250 sq ft or 2500, I’ll require $3000 to move into a place. First, last and security deposit are all about the same around here. Anything you can contribute to help me is greatly appreciated. My PayPal is paypal.me/IngridOliphant. Venmo is @Ingrid-Oliphant-1 and CashApp is $IngridOliphant.
Many, many thanks.