I have a woman friend that doesn’t approve of me free-sleeping in my van. One day, I was having a bad day and she said regarding my alternative lifestyle, “How’s that working out for you?”
I still like this friend because she and her husband have been very supportive of me BUT this thing she said to me was a programmed response and I didn’t like it at all.
For years, television, films, magazines, newspapers etc. have portrayed free-sleeping as a horrible, horrible thing. They have portrayed being homeless (or being “poor”) as worse, even than pedophilia, I would say, otherwise, where are all the stories about sick pedos and their pathetic lives?
Most free-sleepers (Homeless, as they call them) are portrayed as either one or two things. Chemically addicted to drugs and/or alcohol or mentally ill. Sad music is played when portraying homeless people, usually so you will give money and also work your ass off (and pay lots of taxes) so that you will NEVER EVER find yourself homeless.
Well I happen to know of a number of free-sleepers though who do not use drugs or abuse alcohol and I don’t believe they are mentally ill either. Who decides what is mentally ill anyway? It is a running joke but truism that psychiatrists, psychologists an their families are the most neurotic people there are! How are they qualified to pronounce judgement on the general population? Many of them are even addicted to pharmaceutical drugs!
Anyway, the powers that be don’t want the middle class, the working class, or the working-a-LOT -for-very-little-class to know how freeing free-sleeping can be. If people knew, I think they would choose it more often. So they (The tax-collectors, capitalists and other similar enterprises) have to make sure there is a stigma on free-sleeping so that no one want to do it unless forced to.
I feel the stigma every day, even though most people don’t even notice me. I haven’t been a tv watcher for years but I still feel it. I feel like I have a big sign on my head that reads, “Homeless”.
Lately, because it is winter,I feel it more than ever because it’s harder for me to blend in. While the upper middle class (and even wealthy) women around me, just throw a scarf on when going outside…no jacket sometimes, even in the worst weather….I dress for a day outside. I’m wearing a long wool coat, hat and gloves. This morning, I even put a pair of stretchy pants on under my long skirt for extra warmth while riding my bike. I rolled the legs up so no one would see. At some point though one of the pant legs came down. Ugh. I hope no one noticed my “screaming homeless” asymmetrical outfit!
So how’s it working out for me? I have bad days like anyone else. Today isn’t one of them. Even though I probably look homeless or at the very least poor or weird, I’m reasonably happy. There’s something about braving the cold and getting to my destination in one piece on my bike, in the sunshine and fresh air and making a little money doing something I like without some shyster boss looking over my shoulder trying to make me work like a machine so he or she can get rich off MY LIFE that makes one feel a little victorious. Yes it’s cold sometimes but I can get warm again. I won’t die and the sun is still shining. Screw everyone’s opinion. Their good opinion won’t buy me a new van or even a cup of coffee.
I understand that my friend is programmed by the current powers to see my free-sleeping as a bad thing and she thinks maybe she can snap me out of it with her magic words…BUT I asked her how HER life is working out. She works as a server (waitress) and she is the only White girl that works for the restaurant. The Mexicans gang up on her, especially one of them and she is miserable about it. Her husband HATES his job working for a large corporation too and abhors his commute in bumper to bumper traffic every day. They have rent control (good) but their rent is still very high, considering their neighborhood has really gone down hill these last few years. Her and her husband are less happy than me, even though they have a home, running vehicles and other niceties. She knows it, and I know it. She had nothing to say to my question.
This is a long post so if you are still reading, thanks. Maybe when I am not free-sleeping anymore, if that day ever comes, I will “come out” like gay people do to bring more awareness to free-sleeping. Gay people are told they are courageous and wonderful when they come out as having sex with their own sex (almost like having sex with yourself, come to think of it). Will the powers that be give me a parade for being a brave free-sleeper and coming out of the closet as formerly homeless person? Methinks not! I hope my smart readers will ask themselves why this is.