I have got to know my city.
This is one of the positives to have come my way since my eviction notice fell through my door last Thursday morning. I have walked the length, and I have walked the breadth. I walked diagonal, in circles, up and down…I could have started a one woman tourist agency. No, really, I could have. Portsmouth is a beautiful city, when you look at it with fresh eyes and an optimist’s filter. I’m a human Instagram, when it comes to making things look better than they are. Rats? Great wildlife locally! Overgrown bushes? I do love a good Nature Reserve! Crushed and discarded beer cans strewn haphazardly across the grassy patch on the corner of a road? Modern Art, dude! You get the idea.
So, in a week that has had me walk more than 60 miles, look at 5 houses, apply to view another 70 (yes, really), and speak to the Council (I saw the really cool guy who was on ‘How To Get A Council House. He’s lovely in real life), I thought I would kick back and look at those positives. Remind myself who I am, remember what I have been through, and understand that, as with all things, “This Too Shall Pass.”.
- I can have a massive clear out. I am naturally a bit of a hoarder. I like *things*, and I tend to pick them up from everywhere I go. Even if it’s only to the local Tesco, I end up with some small bit of crap that caught my eye. I have enough books to fill a study, maybe enough to fill a small library. I have clothes (too small, too big, kids outgrew them…) enough to start a charity shop. Maybe a rag shop, actually, because they’re not really that great and some are from the 90s. I wish that on no-one. I found my recycling mojo kicked in when I looked in, and around, my family’s wardrobes. DVDs, CDs, and, believe it if you will, cassette tapes. I have accumulated so much tat and crap over the years, the BBC could do a one hour special on ‘Things We Should Throw In The Bin’. It’s worthless, old, and mostly junk. Positive #1 of being made homeless? I can justifiably throw away the remnants of a life long lost.
- I will be forced to save every penny, and replace my mould-infested furniture. This sounds harsh, but new furniture has never really happened in my life. Not much as a child, and definitely not as an adult. I had friends with old sofas, and beds no longer used. They had tables and TV units. They had an old wardrobe, which was going to the tip. They had coffee tables and freezers. You get the idea. It’s a constant source of amazement to me, how generous my friends and family are (and in one case, how much of a shopaholic pack-rat one friend is: a lot of the ‘second hand’ things she offered to me at huge discounts were a month or two old, and she’d simply gone off them). It has meant, of course, that I have not had to buy new pieces, or spend extreme amounts of money. It has also meant I have never chosen what will go in a room, what we will sleep on, or how our dining table would look. We always ‘made do’ as many others always do. Now, thanks to all my possessions being ruined, I need replacements. I have decided I will save, constantly, when we have a secure roof over our heads, and I will buy cheap, cheerful items, chosen by me. They might well come from thrift and charity shops, indeed, they likely will, as I love the 60s & 70s home decor look (don’t judge me!), but I would have chosen them. Positive #2 of being made homeless? I can start afresh and get things I like. Also, the kids love camping – they get to have sleeping bags and roll mats, until their beds can be replaced. Yay!
- I get to document everything, as it happens. The people I meet, the resources available, the robbing rental agencies! There is so much involved, when one is becoming homeless, it seems scary, daunting, and at times insurmountable. Hoops are put up to jump through, then moved, just after you have launched yourself up into the air. The rules of the game change, but that’s not so bad, because it turns out I was playing Cluedo, and everyone else was playing Chess. Typical. I’m hoping to gather enough information to be of some good to someone, somewhere. I’m not the only one out there, in this situation. I won’t be the last. So I will collate and make note of anything useful. Positive #3 of being made homeless? I can make it into a small adventure and hopefully help people as I go along my way.
- I survived the Eighties. So this, in comparison, should be a piece of cake. I was brought up on a Council Estate, by a single mum, in the bloody Eighties. I had day-glo socks and a big perm. I wore white stilletto shoes and ra-ra skirts, with shoulder-pads to rival Joan Collins. I had Converse and Hi-Tec trainers. I am battle hardened to austerity, I have lived through boom times and fallen through the recessional floor. I can do this. I must do this. I will do this. Positive #4 of being made homeless? I have realised how strong I am, and that I can get through it. Because…
- I have the best friends, anywhere, everywhere, in the world. Truly, you are all amazing. Thanks to your support and messages, I have not crumbled on the worst days, and I have laughed on the not-so-bad days. I’m exhausted, worn out, and disheartened. I will not patronise myself, or anyone else in the same predicament, by pretending otherwise. But thanks to all of you, I know I am not alone. Just knowing I have support, good wishes, love, and people who care? It sort of balances the cosmic pigeon enjoying itself by shitting on my head from a great height. I might be getting shat on, but you all hand me the baby wipes to clean myself up and carry on. Thanks go to all of you, but a special mention will be made here to a lovely woman, Zoe Gray. She heard what had happened and set to making a difference. There is now a Go Fund Me page, if you would like to help financially. Many of you have asked, and now, thanks to Zoe, there’s one set up.
So, it’s hard, being made homeless. Bloody hard. But there are positives, if you know where to look. I’m off now, to drink some coffee and tend to the immense and epic blisters I have. Then I’ll throw clothes away and old ornaments, and maybe even that old shirt I have had since I was 11. I’ll sing along to Material Girl, and throw out mouldy linens. And I’ll hope for some kind of cosmic Pest Control guy to come and kill the cosmic pigeon. I’ll remember this is but another phase, and I will be moving on. I’ll remember I have friends and people who want to help me — and in turn, I’ll remember to accept that help.
Kathleen Kerridge is a Fantasy Fiction Writer. Her books can be found on Amazon here. Or here, if you are not in the UK.