Debra Doesn't Live Here Anymore
Somehow, I've decided that the building is white with mauve trim. Both decidedly past their prime and not scheduled for a touch up anytime soon. Because of its address deep in the heart of ghetto Albany's commercial zone, I've also decided that there's an African hair braiding salon to one side. A Korean nail shop on the other. Safe bet. Both are ubiquitous in the hood. Along with beauty supply shops, bodegas and pizza by the slice. All shabby, all catering to blacks but few owned by us. Immigrant moxie never fails to amaze me. (No, Africans are not 'black'. They're African. It's an insult to Africans to assume that being from Ghana is the same as being from Detroit.) A holy roller, storefront Protestant church will be within a stone's throw, convenient to a Quickie Mart run by South Asians where naughty kids spend the coins they were meant to tithe. Since I've also decided that the building isn't so marked, I wonder if those industrious ghetto-preneurs know their fourteen hour days are spent next door to a homeless shelter.
So far, picturing the place my kids and I will likely end up this week doesn't make it any easier to make the call.
The longer I dither, the faster we run out of the final few dollars I have to pay for this hotel room. Something tells me 'the suits' who run this joint won't carry me for as long as my lovely landlord did. My former landlord, now that we're homeless. What do hotels do anyway when you can't pay your bill? I'll let you know.
I'm just like the rest of you. Even as I donate to panhandlers, with their dubious "homeless veteran" signs, I can't help believing that their plight is mostly their own fault. Shame on me. I can't know why any random street person is destitute but I know why I am: my divorce. Five and a half years of litigation later (we were only married for five) I've lost everything. My career. My health. My home. My possessions. Our beloved cat and my very sense of self. Now, most likely, my kids since I can't provide a home for them. But the only reason I can't is because family court never ends, not as long as one of the parties doesn't want it to. When we separated, all we had were two kids and debt. Yet the battle rages on and it has defeated me. I stopped counting the attorneys' fees at the $100,000 mark and I rarely bother to open my mail since it's all from collection agencies. I'm 51. I'll spend the rest of my life repaying my unbelievably generous, foolish friends.
I'm not writing this to settle scores with my ex. The specifics of our legal conflict is unworthy of public attention. I'm writing this because I'm going to lose my kids as a punishment for running out of money.
I want the world to know this.
Last but not least in the litany of all that I've lost is my passion for writing. This experience has been so debilitating, I gradually lost my love for wordsmithing. My long-term unemployment in the post-internet wasteland that is now journalism and publishing hasn't helped. To be sure, I could work all day everyday as a writer were I willing to do so for peanuts. Just turned down a job reviewing six books. For fifty dollars.
So, I'm also writing this to see if I can regain the indescribable satisfaction that my craft used to bring me. The poor are often written about but rarely do they, we, get to speak for themselves. I'll be using this blog to do just that. I won't be chronicling my legal battle but rather how I go about holding my family together through this nightmare. Most of all, I'll be writing about becoming Debra again. I've been whittled down to either 'the 'petitioner,' 'the respondent' or Mom. Never Debra. I want her back again.
I wrote my way out of a difficult life once. I'll do it again.