I wasn’t sure about the black torn blazer with torn pleather on the shoulder, or if it went with the cashmere sweater and the grey ankle pants he had made fun of back when I was working for the Catholic College.
This was before I went on leave.
Granted, my leave ended in three days on Monday, but here I was, trying to get my outfit together after reapplying my makeup at 10:30 p.m. so that I could intercept the delivery messenger before he notified the front desk he had arrived. The less any human was alerted about my presence at the Metropolitan Women’s Club of San Francisco, and why I was currently living there, the better.
I’d left on a Tuesday over a month ago.
I’d prepared myself for this emergency over the past two years Sir Grumpus had been pushing me over the edge, using intense love bombing spliced with coercive control to drive me to mental illness, eventually discarding me one night as useless to him when I put kratom in my shake while we watched Black Panther on the projector.
If we lived in Ireland I could actually fight him in court.
I’d had it with drugs, going crazy, being sick, pretending everything was OK.
None of those remedies for keeping it cool were keeping me safe anymore, not since I’d been to jail for not telling the whole truth and punching him in the face while I was driving. I’d snapped, PTSD is a bitch, when he tried to grab the wheel after yelling at me to slow down because I didn’t know how to drive at all. Because of this, I’d learned not to lose my own temper, had been meditating for hours on end day after day, taking up yin yoga to keep my body from ever spazzing like that again.
It was hard to take 52 weeks of online battery classes with mostly men talking about women and how it was their fault they acted coarse that one time and if she would simply behave and stop retaliating everything would be fine, but I’d gotten through that year of him acting as if I was the violent one in the relationship, even getting some tips from felons on how to love myself.
I complained to mum about this at the Club.
She listened to me while watching the Cobb salad I was eating as well.
We ended up sharing the Cobb salad she had bought for me, then she ended up putting me up for weeks and weeks at a cost she didn’t currently have in cash, but was willing to invest in me, she said.
She worked some barter magic and eventually managed a way to come up with the money, asking my dad to help us out with the money he’d gotten from his parent’s death years earlier and the sale of their house in El Cerrito.
But today was rough. I didn’t navigate across the bridge to get my doctor to sign the disability letter I had called the SDI office six or eight times to obtain in official paper form. Later I ended up finally visiting in person to grab a copy of so I could manually get her signed.
I couldn’t get an appointment with the doc ’til Tuesday, but this I found only after calling three times and leaving one message.
After six weeks hunting sublets, rooms and rentals I had finally secured an apartment over half equal to the paycheck I wouldn’t be getting any day now.
The building managers promised to get me in early. I was supposed to check out any day now.
Every day I lingered I called my mom to tell her my sob story and she would find a way to extend my stay. She’s a great talker, my mom. Always finds a way for her daughter. I’d only asked her for help, not wanting anyone to know my troubles, because I’d been desperate.
After three phone calls, one text and some heavy sighs and yoga, I walked the couple blocks to Worthington Apartments on lower Nob Hill to call them from standing outside their door, as long-distance wasn’t seeming to work.
Trusting the pair were simply super busy the past four days I scrambled to extend my credit limit at the club, putting a few days on my debit card when that grace ran out, as I had withdrawn $4200 in cashier’s check to secure the 430 square foot studio after searching NextDoor, Craigslist and the pavement for rooms, sublets, apartments. At $2100 a month it’s was a price I had to pay right now. It was the low end of the rental market for a unit at the moment, not much different from the units in the TL.
Now to find that average six-figure salary. Once I got over the agorophobia, that is. I’d had to down a bottle of sparkling wine to get to the rental appointment, I was so nervous. Fortunately, the old man was a novelist and had also hitchhiked as a teenager, so he had pity on me. Told me to keep writing poetry, the world needs me.
My credit card had been shut off due to a scam I’d fallen hostage to online, and now I needed to go into the bank to get a temporary card while they investigated the many erroneous charges that had occurred within a few blocks of the Metropolitan Club.
I’d been crying on the floor all day, in between texting my girl friends, one of whom was his first wife - -he’d had two.
I had been crying uncontrollably in waves for days, a most uncomfortable experience that left me slightly out of body in disgust and how much it hit all the seemingly wrong nerves in my body.
Why the tears felt so wrong after losing the apartment half my paycheck went to every month in Oakland and a partner I was gonna marry and have a kid with, who used to be my bandmate, who had violently abused me in every way for years is beyond me, but it was taking a domestic violence counselor, a human rights agency, a PTSD counselor, my credit card balance, a leave of absence, the State of California Disability office, should they so kindly accept my claim, the food stamps office of San Francisco, Caviar, the messenger service delivering my food once a day, all of the messengers who delivered my food once a day, my mom and the rest of my chi to face the truth.
Now I was digging through my wardrobe wondering what the heck had happened that I was allowing myself to be holding dirty trousers with a questionable recent history I choose not to speak deeply of with you, dear reader.
They were frankly gross, ill-fitting, dumpy and I was so hard on my appearance after years of being hyper sexualized and taking pole dancing classes to make myself more appealing I had developed a bad case of OCD, afraid my very face was so abominable people would yell at me if I dared leave the room anything less than perfect.
Why I am writing this isn’t about complaining though, but truly it is in hopes that you might get a laugh at how I spent so long on my makeup and hair after accepting an offer of a $35 gift of food from the city of San Francisco and Doordash, went downstairs to put my debit card on file and find out if a room was open past Saturday, which it wasn’t, so I was about to be homeless again, and opened the front door exactly in time to see a think black man walking up the hill with a low rider and a huge bag full of deliveries.
When he saw he didn’t have to ring the door and a woman was standing outside smiling he smiled.
He was shaking as he tried to find my coffee and bag of hummus with gluten free pita and sweet potato fries.
I’d paid a minimum tip through the app, but I reached into my purse for my only cash, I had five whole dollars.
He didn’t know what I was struggling with, and he didn’t need to.
He saw my outstretched hand with green in it and said, “Right on,” eyes lit and chin up.
“Take it easy,” I said, eyes lit and chin up.