Kate and I hear this all the time. Over half a million people live on the streets, some of them for almost their whole lives. Most of them don’t have cars. They’re lucky if they have tents. But for some reason, we can’t live inside a portable heat source?
OK, so here’s my belief. It’s all down to privilege. See, just a few short weeks ago, I didn’t think I could live in a car either. I expected we’d spend part of a night, get cold, and then go crawling back to our abusers. But we didn’t. Aside from my lower legs being swollen from the car seat, we were fine. The hardest problem we’ve had to solve is where and how to cook for ourselves. (Most places don’t look too kindly on someone plugging in a hotplate, and it’s been too cold to feasibly break out the grill.)
Most of the time, when people look at us, they see a couple of kids running away from home. And even when they support us in that decision, they seem to think they need to take on the responsibility of saving us from our choices. I recently lost a good friend because, instead of listening to us and trusting us, he spent all day trying to find homeless resources for us, retreading ground we’d already considered and discarded, just to avoid facing the fact that there was nothing he could do. His pestering got so stressful that I finally asked him to stop. He blocked me on Facebook and hasn’t spoken to me since.
The fact of the matter is, you can live in a car. It’s hard. It’s often unfun. But you can do it as long as you can find a safe place to sleep and make sure to keep warm during the winter. Make sure you have a place to shower. And if your local supermarket has one of those free membership card things that gets you deals and coupons, sign up for that shit. Our place is having a sale on 10 for $10 maltomeal. And these aren’t little bags. These are average size for a box of cereal bags. I’ve gotten five meals out of a single bag so far, and that’s with snacking mindlessly. If I wanted to ration myself, I could probably get even more.
Also, when taking advantage of these deals, try to remember that the store words things to separate you from your money. 10 for $10 really just means $1 each. You very, very seldom have to buy the suggested amount, so if you only have $8, just get eight bags. (Or six or seven if you’re in a state where sales tax on food is a thing.)
The important thing is don’t go off all half cocked. Plan in advance. Do research into homeless shelters and see if they might be more appropriate to your needs. Do research into being homeless to get some useful advice on making money and finding safe sleeping locations. And try to travel light.