Two years ago on this day, I got on a plane to Portland, Oregon. I had just been laid off of my job of the previous 4 years and had taken my severance package, my unwisely cashed out 401k and moved to a city I’d chosen nearly at random. I had no family or friends there. I had a been there for a mere weekend a month before with my grudgingly supportive parents to choose a place to rent, and that was the extent of my knowledge.
Now, two years and a lot of mistakes and shitty luck later, I’m back in California planning a new exit.
When I moved to Portland I had been living well for quite some time and had a lot of stuff. Just stuff. Big TVs and furniture and things that just gather when you sit still for too long and aren’t worried about money. But I was going to fly to Portland because I couldn’t convince anyone to make the 16 hour drive up with me in a moving van.
So for the first time in my life I had to purge. It took weeks. I sold what I could (not nearly as much as I should have) and gave away the rest, and filled dumpsters. I packed, then repacked until my entire life fit into two suitcases, a box for my parent’s garage and 13 boxes that I shipped. I cried. I made myself marathon Hoarders while I worked to keep reminding me that I didn’t need all that stuff. I was getting rid of everything I’d worked for my entire life to appease this mad dream to live somewhere green where I wouldn’t roast to death every summer and where I wouldn’t be trapped in a city I hated.
I knew I had to do it or I was going to lose my mind, living trapped in a box, constantly gaining weight and doing absolutely nothing. So Portland was a move to save myself.
I traded a lifetime of objects for freedom and salvation and I learned nothing. When I reached Portland I wasted an insane amount of money on buying back as much as I could of what I’d given up. Things I didn’t need. The only thing I bought in those first few weeks that I don’t regret was the most expensive and the most frivolous. Korra. I should have left the shiny new appliances at Walmart and hit the road than with my little Goblin monster, but I didn’t understand yet.
Two years of underemployment later I had sold everything I owned of value to survive and still had to crawl home, having fit my entire life including my two dogs into the 4x6ft space in the back of a rented Dodge Grand Caravan. I’ve crawled back home and fallen back into the trap of California again. I’ve regained the 70 pounds Korra and I worked off in Oregon, and I spend far too much time hiding in my room from people who seem to be bent on tearing themselves and everyone else apart just for things.
My family is obsessed with things. With appearances and money. They care only that they are able to buy what they want. I’ve spent 6 months trying to find enough money to get out of here again, to get a job in a barren economy. I work at night when they are asleep because I have to “earn my way” doing everything they say. They want me out of here but they have crippled my ability to leave. They told me I have to be out on May 18th, regardless of where I’m going because the $50 a month I need to feed myself and my dogs is “bankrupting” them.
My friend is lending me $1000 because she is horrified by the idea of me having to sleep on the street and she knows that if I have to give up my dogs to go to a shelter, I won’t have anything left to stick around for.
My family is planning to spend $1500 on a ping pong table to store in my room when I’m gone.
Was that how I used to be? Things are more important than people? God, I hope not. Regardless, I’m not that way anymore. My priorities are vastly different now. I care about keeping my friends and my dogs happy and healthy, safety, shelter, and food. And writing. If all those things are covered…then I write.
Things just don’t seem important to me anymore. A shiny TV won’t feed me. A Xbox won’t keep me warm. My laptop lets me earn the money I need to survive and gives me a way to write and my phone keeps me connected to the few people who care. So, I think I’ve finally learned the lesson I missed two years ago. Stuff isn’t necessary, it’s a distraction from the rot in your life.
Maybe if I had less stuff growing up I would have seen how I was destroying myself. Maybe if my Mother had less stuff she would value her family more than appearances. Maybe if Trump had less stuff he would notice that thing on his head.
I’m losing the roof over my head and now I know enough about what the stuff was hiding to know that I don’t want another apartment or to crash on a couch until I can afford to rent a room. I don’t want to waste any more time surrounding myself with pointless things I don’t need.
Now I’m focusing on what I need to achieve and what I need to get there. On May 18th, a truly decent human being and her three fuzzy children are going to retrieve me from this trap and take me and my goblins with her up to Oregon where I will camp in the middle of the desert while I prepare a van or RV for fulltime life on the road.
Now that I have a plan I’m impatient. I want to go now. I want to leave this poisonous place and all this pointless crap everywhere. Freaking limbo.
I’m tired of only having whining to write out. I want to write about new parks and campsites. I want to write about exciting trees! Soon! May 18th! Sooooooon.
In the meantime, My birthday is on May 4th. If you have any desire to help me and my goblins get out and stay out, you can visit my Patreon, or donate via Paypal. I promise, no stuff will be bought. Only fun things like gas, and propane, and prepaid wifi hotspot refills and dog food. If you have any old items on this list that could help me until I get set on the road, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.