It was definitely a double-edged sword staying in my little "four star hotel". I finally had my own space and the opportunity to rest without being bothered, but at the same time, come on, I was sleeping in my frickin car!
As little sleep as I got at my aunt's, I got even less in my new four star hotel. I'm one of those people who stretches out when I sleep so it was incredibly uncomfortable (and insanely hot) thus making it nearly impossible to get any sort of rest. Normally, I'd just lay in my driver's seat, close my eyes for about half an hour and countdown the time until my next shift. It was kinda like when you hit the snooze button and close your eyes; I didn't really sleep but more-so was resting with my eyes closed.
On a good day, in terms of real, actual sleep, I'd catch about an hour or so in E!'s parking structure and an hour or so in the parking structure at the mall where Gamestop was located. Anything more than that, I'd consider as luck and a blessing. Needless to say, by the end of the first week, my body had gotten accustomed to running on a couple hours of sleep and I was officially sick of Vienna Sausage, bread and ketchup.
The whole situation wasn't as bad as it should've been given that I was working 80hrs a week so I didn't have much time to really sit around and fully experience or realize the homelessness. Oddly enough, since I wasn't staying with my aunt and didn't have to commute two hours to work everyday, sleeping in my car provided a weird sense of relief and stability.
About a week and a half into my stay at Chateau de Honda, I found out that they were hiring more people at E!. A friend of mine from college, James, was looking for a new job so I called him to give him the heads up of the job opening. We caught up for a while and in the process I briefly mentioned my ongoing living situation. Upon hearing of it, he offered to let me crash on his couch for a while. I told him that would awesome and he said he just had to run it by his fiance. She approved and following day, I was crashing on James' couch in Culver City.
That was probably the most comfortable "bed" I've had since I moved down to LA and the only problem, if you could even call it a problem, in living there was that I had to check in with the a guard at the gate everyday.
My schedule remained the same and was pretty much the only psychotic constant I had left in my life to really sort out. But now I had two full-time jobs and given that it was only a couple of months prior that I didn't even have a dollar to my name, I couldn't complain.
James and his fiance, Jenna, were more than hospitable but given my past experiences as being a major burden when living with others, I was extra cautious and had the intention of being out of there as soon as possible. My first night, or should I say "day", sleeping there, I remember it being so comfortable, so relaxing, so undisturbed that I was speechless. It's like I wanted to cry. I couldn't remember the last time I had a night of stress free, undisturbed sleep.
I had been talking with my sister in recent months and the plan was for her to move up and we were going to find a place to live together. All I had to do was stay with James, save money, and in a month or so, my sister would move up and I would finally have my own place.
Going into their place, my student loans were overwhelming to say the least and I had set up some payment plans to try to catch up with them, cleaning me out for most of my paycheck off the bat.
In the first week there, I had gone to the supermarket to finally buy some real food. I was planning on cooking dinner for James and Jenna as a thank you for letting me crash at their place. After going through the checkout, I swiped my debit card and to my surprise, it got declined and said that I didn't have any funds in my account. WTF?!
I told the cashier that I was going to go grab some cash and come back. Not knowing what I was going to do, I ran to my car to grab my checkbook. I was thinking that I could write a check and not have to worry about it since I was getting paid that Friday. When I got back into the supermarket, I noticed that they had put my cart full of food near the exit and no one was watching it. I walked by it and I couldn't help but think how easy it would be to just walk out with the cart since no one was even watching it. Had this happened during the month I was at the Shady House, I honestly would've walked out with that cart. It's crazy the things you're willing to do to survive when you have no other choice and your back is up against the wall. As soon as I thought that, a security guard came out of nowhere, stood by the exit and looked straight at me as if he knew what I was thinking.
Screw it. I knew I was getting paid that Friday so I left the grocery store and when back to James' house. I called my bank and it turned out that there was an unauthorized payment that went through to me student loans and not only did they continue to charge a payment that I had canceled, but they had double charged me on it. I had to close that account and open a new one, which was so irritating and such a hassle to me.
I forget how long I stayed at James and Jenna's place. I'm thinking I was there between one and two months and left either in July or August. I remember, despite my working hours, still feeling like a bum because I was laying around trying to sleep during the day. I never went out or did any unnecessary spending in hopes of moving in with my sister soon.
That's when my sister called me and told me that the plan of her moving up had fallen through because my father had been dipping into the money that she had been saving from work. Turns out that he had opened the account for her and still had access to it since he had been depositing her share of the child support from my parent's divorce settlement. Apparently, my sister said he had taken way more than she expected, her account went from nearly 4grand to less than 1grand and he justified it by saying that since he had been depositing money every month, technically that money is still his. Yeah, I don't know about that. But this was just one of the many issues that is going on back home which is breaking my heart and driving me to make a better life for my family.
So needless to say, in a matter of days, my sister was far from moving up with me. Then, if that wasn't enough, I find out that James' family is flying into town and is planning on staying with him and Jenna for a couple of weeks. So, of course, there wouldn't be any room for me.
It was cool though. They gave me enough time to save up some money and after having bounced from place to place, having lived in 6 different places, and being homeless within that first year of being in LA, James and Jenna were definitely a breath of fresh air and I owe them my life.
The amazing thing is that despite us all going to UW together, I never met Jenna OR really hungout with James until I moved in with them. I knew OF James because he was on the football team, he also was a film major (although it was weird that I don't remember having any classes with him..but I hardly went to class anyways so that makes sense), and we pretty much had the same group of friends. But we never really directly hung out with each other. We had been in contact online and had been planning on doing some film projects together but prior to me moving to LA, we never really knew each other. So it was such a blessing for him to open up his doors to me and allow me to crash on his couch. We got closer when I moved in and I thank them for everything they did for me. They have the hugest hearts and are the nicest people I've met in a long time. They took me in when my own family was throwing me to the curb and they helped me when I really needed it the most. I don't even know how I'm ever going to repay them and I can't thank them enough from the bottom of my heart .
The week before their family flew in, I found a place a couple blocks from work. For $500 a month, I'd be sharing a one bedroom apartment with a girl. I'd be sleeping in a tiny curtained off breakfast nook. This nook was so small that when I placed my queen sized mattress on the floor, all four sides of it was touching the wall. It felt like I was sleeping in a huge canopy bed! Haha! But it was MY canopy bed!
It took me a couple of days to get my stuff out of storage and into the apartment and when I finally got settled in, I rejoiced at my first step, although it being a baby step, towards stability in my living situation. Little did I know that, although I had my first stable living situation since moving to LA over a year prior, my nights of stress free, undisturbed sleep was far from over.
Part 1: Where's the Love?
Part 2: Moving Day
Part 3: The Shady House
Part 4: False Salvation
Part 5: Four Star Hotel
Part 6: Do Unto Others
Part 7: So Close, Yet So Far
Part 8: Dent of Hope