I came across an article on the BBC News web site about this blog. The blog is called Wandering Scribe (at http://wanderingscribe.blogspot.com/). The writer is a homeless woman. For several months now she has lived in her car on the outskirts of London, England. She started her blog in February, writing it in libraries. She survived the British winter, surviving sub-freezing temperatures.
What's interesting about her story (she's anonymous) is how she doesn't fit the stereotypical view of homelessness. She's not an addict, she's not mentally disturbed, she's not a runaway. She became homeless after a series of misfortunes. She lost her job. She went into debt while looking for work. She was apparently owed money and went into further debt expecting the money to be paid off. After exhausting her resources and with only enough cash to last a week, she accidentally spent the night in her car. Seeing how easy it was (though she would learn that it wouldn't be that easy), she stayed in it.
The Wandering Scribe is a proud woman. She takes care to wash daily, showering in a public restroom at a hospital. She tries to look "normal". She tries hard not to be a nuisance. She hides in her sleeping bag when people walk past the car, so they won't know she's in there. She's scared, afraid someone might realize a single woman is sleeping in a car and attack her.
What's disturbing about her blog is that she's articulate, intelligent. She could be anyone. She admits that she was in denial before the bottom fell out. She obviously is in need of counseling. Her decline happened after a relationship went sour. She admits that she had a nervous breakdown. After she lost her permanent residence, getting a job became more difficult, a problem that is exasperated by her current situation (we hear that one of the biggest problems about getting out of homelessness is the lack of a permanent address when applying for a job).
There are still some questions that haven't been answered (or that I haven't seen answered; I've only read several posts). Why didn't she declare bankruptcy? Why didn't she go on welfare? Was it pride, a need to make it "on her own", or something else? Are her parents alive? If so, why didn't she contact them?
In spite of the questions, and in spite of the subject matter, her blog is absorbing. She's not looking for sympathy, just human contact and catharsis. One post that's stuck with me was a recent post where she described getting out of her car and lying on the ground, trying to straighten her body after sleeping crouched in the car all night. She worries about whether or not living in a car will leave permanent physical problems.
It really makes you thankful for what you have, particularly if you've ever been on a downward slide in life and wondered how far it could go. This woman shows just how far it can go. Perhaps the most interesting (and sad) aspect was how fortunate she felt compared to some other homeless folk; at least she had a car in which to live and where she could keep her stuff.
4 Good Years
8 months ago