Standing at the sink in my RV the other day, pouring water out of a pot to rinse dishes because one of my pipes burst, I suddenly thought: I have no money.
And I’m still totally a person.
Maybe it sounds obvious—that a moneyless person is still a person. Maybe I just want it to be the case that that would sound obvious to me, but it didn’t feel that way when I realized it; instead, I burst into tears. “Well, that’s a valuable lesson,” said a friend of mine who has enough self-awareness to know that they measure their worth at least partly monetarily when I shared this. I am aware that I certainly measured my worth that way (I mean: Who doesn’t?). That I thought I needed dollars to be counted as a person at all, though, was not a belief I knew I was holding.
“You’re homeless, so,” a government worker nonchalantly started a sentence recently when I was signing up for a social service. I felt like I’d been slapped. I do live indoors, albeit the doors of a vehicle, and she knew that, which means she doesn’t count this house as one, regardless of whether I am typing this while lying on sheets that are relentlessly advertised as Oprah’s favorite. I’ve been terrified of being homeless my whole life, a looming possible side effect of transness that absolutely helped inform my decades-long unwillingness to come out, and my finances have finally reached the realm of scary. Last night, as pouring rain revealed yet another leak and the water pump remained disabled by a break that’ll cost god knows what to fix, I was painting, priming the walls of a tight space while I was living inside it and without running water, and I sure did throw up a prayer of frustration or maybe accusation to my ancestors. They had said, I reminded them, that things were going to be weird, but not hard. Even as I said it—This is pretty hard, guys—I could feel how my accounting could use some deconstruction. Some redefinition.
Here’s some of what I have: