I've been in Austin, Texas on and off since January. The longest stay was in the month of May where I mainly slept in a woman's kid's playhouse with a loft to sleep in and a slide out into her backyard. She was kind enough to let me use her hot tub, allow me in the house, use her kitchen and share food. A few times I stayed at another good friend's house and for a few days I went camping out at Texas' Regional Burning Man, Burning Flipside.
As life continues to shift and change, I’m finding myself sleeping in my Passat wagon that's not even paid for yet. It's leaning into summertime here in Austin and it's hot out, and still hot and humid at night. I have slept with the windows incrementally rolled down each night. I wonder whether I'll have a neighbor saying hello to my naked self in the morning. Don't worry, I choose safe and well lit places to park, although I think sometimes it might be a good idea to just pitch a tent somewhere.
You might be wondering why I’m homeless. I’m even hesitant to claim that word because the word homeless is defined as:
(a person) without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets.
"the plight of young homeless people"
of no fixed address, without a roof over one's head, on the streets, vagrant, displaced, dispossessed, destitute, down-and-out.
Based on this definition, I can say I’m homeless, because I’m living on the streets, albeit in a car, with no fixed address. The sentence example and the synonyms are the reasons why I’m hesitant to claim such a descriptor. I’m certainly not displaced, dispossessed, destitute or down and out. I have a car, many belongings to ensure my comfort, including a mattress pad and blankets in the back of my car, toothbrush and toothpaste,soap, shoes, credit cards, water, food, and access to knowledge and other necessities to support my well being.
I’m happy, healthy, and homeless.
My goal here is to not glorify being homeless. There are thousands of literally homeless people here in Austin due to many reasons and most likely not by choice. I see them struggling and have deep empathy and compassion for their journey. I want to be clear, that the last thing I want to do is shame those who are homeless and not in my circumstance of life.
I simply would like to share my personal experience.
This Isn’t My First Time Being Homeless
I was born in Frankfurt Germany, because my dad was in the Army. After that, my Mom took us to San Diego after I was almost a year old. From San Diego to Orlando, Florida, to San Antonio Texas, to San Diego, I went to 8 different elementary schools, 1 middle school, 2 high schools, 4 colleges and just as many homes.
When I was around 7 years old, I remember staying at my mom’s best friend’s house with my mom, two siblings and the friend’s husband and 3 kids in Orlando, Florida. At the time, my Mom was unable to afford housing and food due to an ankle injury that prevented her from working. At some point in Orlando, we stayed with another one of my mom’s friends and my Mom was taken to jail for welfare fraud, which was the reason why my brother and sister and I went to go live with my Dad in San Antonio, Texas. She spent 10 days in jail, another 21 days in jail, and finally another 4 days in jail in San Diego. Since then she’s paid $8,000 back, completed 300 hours of community service, and 5 years probation. My mom became a victim of the system as the district attorney announced they were making an example out of her.
So this lifestyle of homelessness is pretty familiar, relying on the generosity of strangers in times of need, finding work where possible and giving when there is something to give.
Why Am I Choosing To Be Homeless Right Now?
My intention when I left San Diego in November of 2016 was to discover a life that allowed me space to be. Simply be. You know? Live without anxiety, stress, dis-ease, guilt, shame, or pain. I wanted to be present with myself and everyone around me and I wanted to cultivate a life that supported my desire to dance and play for a lifetime. I know in my heart there is a way to honor this desire, integrating it with this life I’m living.
To continue the process of allowing myself space to be, I’ve been systematically removing the layers of muck that I’ve piled on throughout the years that dull my soul’s brightness. I see clarity in why I’m doing what I’m doing now as a way of processing my childhood experience of moving around. I’ve adapted to this life in a way that works for me, yet there is passive pain hidden under the surface of my strength. I’ve been longing to process this memory to further remove another layer that will allow me to simply be, without expressing or projecting pain upon others. I'm consciously choosing to live this way because there is a deep knowing and trust within that I need this opportunity to heal my past wounds.
The little girl inside longs for closure to this experience. She wants all of her feelings to be honored. The ones that include feeling like she wasn’t enough. The ones that made her feel abandoned. The ones that made her feel sad and alone. She knows she's adaptable. She knows she’s flexible and can grown from any challenge, but she wants her pain to be heard. She wants to be acknowledged that she is sensitive.
I write today to be heard. To be known that I have pain from my past and I’m sharing here to allow my little girl space to process and grow from a healing place of compassion and acknowledgement.
It’s funny because the original reason that I was going to share as my reason for being homeless turns out to be more superficial than I believed. I thought it was because I wanted to continue exploring what it is that I want to do to support my financial needs and discover how little I could comfortably live off while integrating regenerative living lifestyle practices into my life.
I've been allowing myself space to percolate, to write, to wonder, and nurture my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self. Little did I know my little girl was quietly waiting to speak up. She's always been kind quiet, and would wait until people spoke to her before coming out of her shell.
I’m seeing my existence, my life expression as deep, yet my understanding of it barely touches the surface. I’m learning to dive deeper every day, to understand why I do the things I do, as I become a witness to my actions, behaviors and choices. Trusting myself is a huge part of this process.
I’m finding here in Austin I’m not alone in this nomadic, wanderer lifestyle. It’s a common choice for many that I come across. I'm curious to hear their stories of their purpose and of their path.
I keep revisiting the question of what I’m doing here in Austin and now I see. I’m in deep process of childhood events. I’m learning and growing every day. Amidst the chaos there is something simple to extract. A lesson to be learned, a message to be heard. Each day is an exploration of possibilities and adventure. What's next, I wonder!?
What is your current life story telling you about your childhood?
Aimee, 30 years old views life as a gift and an opportunity to live your dreams. Stick around to hear how she does it and supports you in doing it, too.