This is a true account of my life as of now...
| I live in my car. It has been many months since I have learnt to call my ride a home.
I've had my share of adventures in the car and no doubt in the next few months there will be more.
Some adventures were just weird. Like the strange old man in the expensive car who followed me for more than half an hour from one location to another. He just wanted someone to talk to. I think he was on medication, and my strong introverted self brushed him off politely. Maybe I could have gained a hot shower and a cup of tea off him. Tea just like I prefer it. Lost opportunity or a good judgement call?
Some experiences weren't nice. Like the warm 2am Saturday morning when an occupant from a random car going by threw a bottle of beer through the rear passengers side window, spraying the inside of my home with broken glass. No I wasn't asleep at the time. But having a huge hole on top of your head at that time of the morning isn't a good feeling, much less than that big sharp bang followed by the explosive burst of glass fragments on top of you that raises you from that special safe cocoon. I had to get my glass replaced and clean the car as best as I could do. It's how you react to these disturbances to your usual life that make you what you are. I just go on with life. But those painful memories of cut fingers, teasing out of sharp sand sized shattered glass from my scalp remain. And of course the odd bit of glass that still remain in the hard to reach corners of my car.
Why do I sleep in the car ?
Mainly because I like the outside and consider myself, to pick a word that works, different.
Sure there may others who do what I do and maybe thrive on it. But at the end of the day, when you lay your body down on the backseat, there is always that niggling feeling of other cars driving past, people walking past and the asphalt a few feet below. But the major problem is you have to curl yourself up on the backseat. The human likes to stretch their legs every now and then when they sleep. I found I can do this in between the driver's side and passengers to some extent. This I do several times a night, sometimes in my sleep.
There is an art to doing what I do. Sure there are others who do it. No doubt many. I haven't seen any, else I would go and talk to them. Make friends so I don't get lonely and feel safe some nights. Well I have seen one car with someone sleeping in the back seat early one morning, but that person might have been a one off as I have not seen him since.
Sometimes I feel ashamed.
You see, I have to drive around a while to pick a place to stay. This can be hard some evenings. There are some homes where the occupants can be nosey. At one place, a lady goes outside at midnight and cleans imaginary litter from the pavement around her home. Things like this puts you off a good night's rest.
I try to get somewhere as late as possible, and then drive out of that place as soon as possible in the morning.
You need to brush your teeth, and shave every other day. I prefer running water for brushing my teeth. So close public amenities is a must.
You kind of have to be in a place where you just blend in. I discovered being close to a tavern helps. There are drunk people around, but at least you don't really expect to be woken up by someone scratching your car window trying to break in since there are people going by all the time. And having the street lighting at that precise angle to cast a dark shadow on the back seat so anyone going by won't see you slumbering under that dark sleeping bag.
My life isn't that hard. I have a choice whether to rent a place and pay someone else's mortgage and the town councils' and other associated bills, or kind of keep it simple. Perhaps also the less material property I own, the less things get broken or stolen. Just plain simplicity. So I limit myself to what fits two bags only.
In the city, you need to wear clean and good clothes. You need to shower frequently. I do that. It’s amazing what many resources are there if you only think and look for it.
Where I live, there was a disaster recently. And there is a shortage of houses. But this was in another part of town. There are many people living in their cars in that part. Or so I have read. Given my finances, I don't want to drive out there just to meet them. But it is in my plans. I need proof of address to join the local library. Those people may be able to help me get a library card.
There are so many things you can do without in life living the way I do. I have discovered that. We took some things for granted from birth, and it takes just a few moments of thought to take away what you just don't need. As long as your mind is busy, what do you care that your fingers are freezing, and will be cold for the next few hours until it is bed time in a sleeping bag. Or that the refrigerator contains some cold juice.
Someone in some other part of the world, or maybe inside the house where I will park my car tonight perhaps does not have the choice to live freely like I do. My cost of freedom is loneliness. But would I rather do this, than live with a neighbour with whom I just don’t get along too well ? Spend a large portion of my weekly wage that I actually sweat for, just for a little privacy ?
There are other homeless people around. They have their stories as do I. I don't drink, smoke, gamble or do drugs like some of them. My addiction is maybe a thirst for knowledge that I get from magazines, books and the internet at the local library. And my best friend - a trusty e-reader. This I easily feed because my life style allows me at least three solid hours after work just to read, to pass the time.
Yes I work. But I tell the boss that I am flatting with friends, and they have a made-up address to send me mail if necessary. This hasn't happened yet. But one day it may. And then my secret that I share with you now will unravel.
I think having to work helps me to keep sane. In the books I read to pass time, sometimes I come across a hero who is a loner too. But whatever keeps the hero sane doesn't always work for me. If the weather is frosty cold, I struggle to keep warm after the library closes in the weekend. Walking past warm and cozy homes with people lying in the front of the television dressed in their light indoor clothes makes me feel like a predator at times. The words "heat source" runs around my head like a mantra as I covertly glance at them. I just need a source of warmth that is not generated by my body for comfort.
Sure I have a car heater. But just how long can you sit at one place with the engine running without drawing attention ? Your mind plays tricks on you. You just expect someone to come and start asking questions. Attention is the last thing you need.
There is actually no one single answer for me. I only live night by night. There are many stories in the city. I am just one. And this is just a phase in my life. A snapshot of my present.
You see, by the time you finish reading my story, I could just as well have my life sorted. But then again, I may be that lone person who passed you in the mall. After all, my story isn't new.
And yes, please feel free to review it. I am not sure when I will respond, but some small things like this will help me to connect with the world.
EDIT: I lived in the car for six months and since then have moved to/back my "normal" life. Many more adventures occurred during the period I did not document...but I will save those stories for another time.