Well, it seems my family might be on the move again, which is a trillion times better than being homeless, but very tiring and jolting nonetheless. The rent is at the place we are staying at, even though it is one of the cheapest available in Sydney, is just too high. So far we might be moving to a small unit above an old store owned by a friend of my mother’s – incidentally, also next to a highway. This friend will be renting it to us as at a greatly lowered amount in comparison to the market prices. It will be very cramped with all four of us, and I am unsure how well generosity and friendship can last over the long term – what if she begins to see us as a liability preventing her from earning more from her property? – but it will be a home, a roof over our heads, something millions all over the world would give their right hand to have, so I am grateful that we won’t have to sleep on the streets or in the car or at a homeless shelter.
In the meantime, as we can’t move in right away, mother will be borrowing the money to help cover the existing rent and other living expenses. We’ll be going into some debt, but it must be done.
As for the noise of living in a space with three other people, I am still trying to figure out ways to cope. The place doesn’t exactly have two clearly delineated rooms: it’s more of a kitchen with an extremely large arched doorway and no door that segues into a room doubling as a bedroom and living room. We’ll be sharing beds. No privacy and alone time will take a toll on my mental health, so I’ll have to find some way around it. If worst comes to worst, I’ll simply have grit it out and sit on the toilet in the bathroom stall with the door locked and earplugs in my ears until my family goes to sleep, then slip out, in the dead of the night, to read and write in the communal rooms. Like a little literary mouse. The only problem is the awful lighting in the bathroom stall. I’ll have to use a torch, perhaps.
As an INFP – and perhaps some of you dreamers might be able to corroborate this – I place very little important on money, at least until something terrible happens, like the threat of homelessness, or when my father left us, in a metaphorical whirling wake of banknotes. Money, to me, has never been a point of pride, prestige, or status – in fact, it’s never been much of anything in regards to my self-worth, or how I view others. A woman who lives from paycheck to paycheck yet hands a couple of dollars each week to the homeless man she passes on the street, if only to help him buy lunch that day, is worth a million times more than the handsome billionaire with the white smile who sits on his mound of cash like a grinning Cheshire Cat.
Money, for me, is a necessary evil that keeps you off the street and somewhere warm and fed, with light to see by and water to clean and cook with, and the other extraneous things people seem to seek for money to bring them – vacations, good food, expensive clothes, large houses, cars – hold not the slightest allure. After all, the loves of my life are writing and reading, the twin goddesses to which I have long-ago chosen to devote my life to, and both hobbies cost very little to maintain. There are the pencils and paper, of course, and the electricity used to power the old computer I type on, but that costs, per week, under $10, I should think, less than $5 on good weeks. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to money-suckers like rent and car breakdowns. As for books, well, I am lucky enough to live in a city with well-stocked libraries, allowing me access to free books whenever I want. I simply write up a list of the books I want collated through browsing the online catalogue, along with all the reference numbers, and ask my brother or sister to help me borrow them when they have the time. Now that is true wealth, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention the internet as well, full of interesting articles, accessible at the touch of a fingertip. Simply by virtue of being a person of the modern age, I am rich with knowledge.
Of course, sometimes there are books I can’t find in the library that I want to read very badly, which always leads me to morosely eyeing the book on Amazon, or all the lovely reviews it has garnered on Goodreads. Do you know, if I were truly homeless and living in a place without public libraries, I might go around begging for books rather than money. One day, when I am published (though it’s a fairy dream, forever melting when I try to reach for it), my greatest joy will be able to set aside a little money each week to buy the books I want to read and support other authors (after buying that little isolated cottage next to a stream, of course, far from the grime and clamor of the cities). Basically, I will be writing books and using the money I get from that to buy more books – because what better thing could you spend your money on! Think of all the thousands of dollars spent on holidays by other people. If I had so much as half as much as they had, think of all the thousands of books I would have been able to buy; I would have put together my own wonderful little library by now.
You’d be surprised at how few people in the world hold this same view of money. I was. In fact, there have been times when other people have been downright mean to me, and made me feel ashamed for being poor, and I, in my naivety, could only look back at them in bemusement. In the past, I’ve made friends with people who placed a premium on vacations, money, and status, who endlessly badgered me until I told them my mother’s occupation, whereupon they looked down their nose at me for the rest of the school year; and once, after my father left, one young woman kept wondering why my family didn’t own a car (that was before my mother bought her puttering second-hand creature) or a house. It made me feel inadequate as a person. I didn’t understand why they seemed to delight in my poverty. Why on Earth would anyone do that? For a while their jibes made me very depressed, especially when a mother of one of my friends ignored me when she visited the school, and I felt a resentful towards my mother for staying a housewife for so long, and marrying such unreliable, selfish man.
But I know better, now. For there are things under this sun that money can never buy, all of them utterly, utterly free, which I intend on enjoying to fullest over the course of my life while barely spending a penny. This lack of desire for luxuries – I can barely leave the house, after all, due to psychological issues, which obviously narrows down one’s spending – means that when I do eventually have some money to spare, I can spend it on what truly matters to me, and donate the rest to other people who might need it more. Those stupid billionaires with all their cash, with all their power to change the lives of others, who don’t give a cent of it to others, desiring to “keep the money in the family” – I can’t understand them, I really can’t. How could you have so much when others have nothing and not feel guilty, not feel a need to share your wealth? Us idealists should really try a hand at accumulating a great deal of wealth ourselves, for we’d make better of use of it.
Writing is still very difficult. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night with a black cloud of despair swirling in my chest, so unable to imagine myself succeeding at it that I feel the urge to end my life, right there and there, for a world in which I cannot write, and will never get published, is not a place I would want to stay in. But something keeps me going, even when money problems are making me stressed or slimy dreck is filling the page – and that something, I have come to realise, is not anything so shiny as confidence, or hope, or self-belief, but the pure doggedness of a man lost in a fog with his arms stretched out before him who is certain that if he just never stops walking, sooner or later, he is bound to bump into something. Of course, the fog may be in a desert, and lead him nowhere but further undulating wastelands for his efforts – but it could also be in a jungle, or, better yet, a city, and if just keeps walking, he might, after days of seemingly aimless wandering, bump into a sign, or the tip of his shoe scrape against a doorstep peeking out of the mist.
So I’ll keep walking, even if I don’t know if I’ll ever get there.