A Cart for Your Invisible Horse

I started really chewing on class accessibility issues in my work about 6 months after I moved from the Medical Dental Building downtown, to the Pioneer Building in Pioneer Square.

For those who don’t understand Seattle, that’s basically from the hoity toity business and shopping district to the historic bar crawl and stadium area where all the human resources, walk in clinics and homeless shelters are.

For a while, I was my typical entitled self that I was back then, avoiding the beggars on the street, feeling unsafe and deeply inconvenienced by their presence.

Over the course of the years I had my practice in that area, though, I transformed as a person. Some of y’all witnessed that, and know how profound it was.

The last two years I had Artful Touch, one of the biggest road blocks for me was that I wanted my work to be accessible to the types of people who were sleeping on benches in front of my office, not only the types of people who were supporting my businesses existence with their money.

I hadn’t found a way by the time I couldn’t afford, even with help from friends in terms of living situations, to stay in business in Seattle any longer (which, amusingly, coincided with the first year I finally grossed $20k, a long-time goal of mine).

And without my business, I couldn’t afford the office I’d been half living in already, so there went my last semblance of housing as well.

A year ago, almost to the day, was when I packed into the van I’d spent 1/2 of my savings on and left. I’ve spent the last year doing this:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?hl=en&authuser=0&mid=1Fz43w54SqRabmekWCnNyq4JRY0Y

Before that, I’d spent 6 months living in a friends backyard shed — which, frankly, turned out to be one of the best living situations I’ve ever had.

That year on the road has shown me what a fool I was. And I fear, that in most cases, people tend to remain foolish about this until it or something similar to it happens to them. It’s why it can be so easy to dismiss someone who is houseless for not behaving properly, for not having more than they do.

But I know better now. I know it is virtually impossible to function without shelter, without a place to bathe, without a way to shit. Not just function in terms of being capable and receptive to the type of exploration, trauma recovery and deep work I offered at AT, but just to fucking get the basics covered. Just to make a meal and clean up after yourself. Just to shit into the plastic bag without making a mess in your living room.

I learned this when, after being on the road 6 months or so, and not even actually hurting for industrialized comforts much via couch surfing and guest rooms and room and board via summer job, I understood how much my production rate would have to change now that I did not have a stable housing situation anymore.

I realized I couldn’t belt out the paintings and the albums and the performances like I had been able to in the past. That I needed a lot more sleep, I needed more down time that wasn’t sleep, and I had been too hard on myself for not producing as much or excelling as quickly as I wanted.

And this was BEFORE I started really living in that van, really experiencing what it was like to wake up with a start at 3 in the morning HAVING to shit and having nowhere to do it but hanging my ass out the side of my house and picking up my turd from the side walk. Experiencing the dichotomy of wanting to use sustainable methods of handling my period but having no running water. Having most of my entire world revolving around how to manage the blood when the days came. Sleeping in layers and layers of clothing and not being able to stand upright.

And this was while I HAD a place to retreat to, that was mine, and relatively safe, and warm when I wanted to put in the effort.

I am understanding another layer of this now that I am in a stationary room again for a while, and noticing how I am EXPLODING with patreon updates, the amount of energy I have now, how much less I stress about managing basic tasks, how much less time it takes to accomplish things when I don’t have to set up and tear down hunched over in a living space the size of a couch every time.

I was a fool, thinking that my desire to work with the homeless and addicted represented for me anything much more than the guilt I felt by participating in the offering of classist, privileged healing work.

I’ve stopped wondering how I can transcend a persons need for shelter and food in order to contribute to their development as people.

I get that the houseless don’t need massages or hugs or one of my cow chip cookies to thrive as human beings again. That’s the shit I needed to feel better about what I had that they did not.

It’s not just the social stigma the houseless face, the little cuts of every clumsy swishypants white girl that tries to see them as people but fails, that keep them from overcoming their traumatic circumstances. I mean, I knew that. But now I KNOW that.

I’ve stopped wondering how I can swoop in and create a magical illusionary container of safety for people who have none. Especially as someone who barely has that container for themselves. The houseless need fucking *houses*.

Now, I wonder more about what little thing I could start to do, about that.



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