Part 10 of An Attempt to Live a Normal Life – (Originally posted on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog in 2013).
After the flood, things gradually improved. I cannot say that anything returned to normal. By the time Halloween came around the town was still cut-off, and people who had to drive to The Front Range came back with stories of long drives (10-hours round-trip), or knuckle whitening trips on the one dirt road that was a shortcut (cut about 2.5 hours off the long-road, one way). This dirt road was not designed for gasoline tankers, Safeway trucks, and UPS deliveries, and they had severely eroded the road, which previously had a few local cars on it and no more. I didn’t drive it myself, but I heard the stories.
Much of the town was still in a no flush zone, and many roads were still inaccessible. Our beautiful lake looked like a quarry, with goliath sized equipment digging up dirt, and hauling it down the canyons to use to re-build the roads. The workers doing the labor (the ‘hard hat angels’ as they have been called), worked seven days a week to get the roads opened again. The National Guard pulled out, and left their road closed signs in place. Other than the constant rumble of trucks the town was dead.
Rocky Mountain National Park was closed for quite some time after the flood. There had been some mud slides in the mountains, and places like the Alluvial Fan were forever changed (again), and they wanted to be sure that the park was safe for hikers before they opened it. All park accesses were closed to hiking, and most roads were closed, and it was hard to find anywhere to go to hike. We have plenty of National Forest around us, but with so many roads closed we couldn’t get to the access points. We were trapped. When the park did finally open it’s gates again, it was open for two days only. To our dismay, our only place to go and get out of town for a few hours was closed again by the Government Shutdown of 2013. The elk were bugling in the park, the aspens were turning gold, the trails were empty, but we couldn’t see any of it.
On Halloween downtown blocked off a couple of blocks for the usual trick or treating, some entertainment was held in the street, and people dressed up in fancy costume and wondered around. One of the most popular costumes was of a Port-O-Toilet. One store front dressed it’s windows with someone playing a banjo made from a toilet seat, and had Christmas lights on another toilet seat, calling them ‘seat warmers.’
I decided to stop by one of the other stores my boss owned, and actually bumped into my boss. I told her I’d heard that she would have the store opened up again in about 4-weeks, and asked if I would be going back to work then. I was ready, willing and able, and excited to get back to it. (If you recall from a previous post, when I was hired for this job I was told it would be year-round, full-time. I had made the decision to get a place to rent based ENTIRELY on this promise. After all, one has to have regular work to pay rent). However, she just looked at me and said “No, I won’t be re-hiring you, I only needed you through Thanksgiving anyway,” then she shrugged, turned her back on me, and walked away.
I stood there in shock, flabbergasted. I yelled after her, but she ignored me. I was just a nobody to her, and I’d been dismissed with the flick of a shoulder, and in that moment my life was shattered and tears sprung to my eyes. I looked at her son (whom I’d worked with) he was handing out candy, and he said nothing. Now what would I do? I needed that job to pay rent, to live, to survive! I wondered around staring at the costumes and the happy smiles on kids faces, but I felt numb.
And so that was that…No job, no work available in town, my only income was $139.00 a week of disaster unemployment (which expired in December) and some food stamps, and I’d just acquired $3,000 worth of new debt on my credit card from vehicle work. It just wasn’t enough to live off. It wasn’t enough to pay rent, buy firewood, and water, and gas for the car, and pay the auto insurance that was due, and other necessities. It just wasn’t possible.
It seemed to me that my one attempt at living in a home had been a failure, and that The Universe had something else in mind for me. I made the decision to stick it out for as long as possible, maybe try and make it through the winter at least, and despite everything give it my very best shot. Maybe I’d get lucky and find another year-round job, but I seriously doubted it. I had no faith in the honesty of employers any more. After all, this year I’d been promised a year-round job, and had based all my plans around it, then later learned that this was a outright lie, a trick, even if the floods hadn’t happened, I’d still been lied to. In previous years I’d had jobs that were supposed to be year-round, and they were, except that the hours were reduced to about 6 a week during the winter months, and no-one can live on $48.00 a week, even if they are homeless living on the street.
And so I found myself having to re-think everything…but it wasn’t too hard of a decision to make.
The obvious answer was to stop struggling, and return to the life that I’d grown into over the years, the life that I’d come to love, the life that offered me an affordable home and freedom at the same time …I would stay here as long as I could, then return to living in my car, and this time I knew it would be a long-term, if not permanent lifestyle choice.
Originally written and posted in October 2013 on my (then) ‘Homeless and Female’ blog.
Looking back on the year 2013, The Year of the Floods, and enjoying a nomadic lifestyle all the more because of it,
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature