I have recently been experiencing one of those phase of life which, when it happens to others, I cheerfully aggravate with a pungent “well, at least you’re getting plenty of irony in your diet!” To wit, while working long and hard hours over the past several weeks I have also been technically homeless. Top of that, my hours have stretched so long into the evening that for a stretch of about ten days, I accidentally quit drinking. Yes, this work nonsense has really cut into my drinking time.
Now, before anyone starts feeling awkward about not sustaining me with emergency PayPal transactions and not offering to buy this round, let me reassure one and all (and most days, “all” pretty much amounts to “one”) that I am fine.
My technical homelessness amounts to having 99.5% of my belongings in storage and my person relocating every few weeks to a new sublet. Considering work has been so heavy, my chief need has been rack time anyway, and I just use these temporary digs to sleep. I even do most of my showering at the gym near my desk job. Considering I have “too much work”, can pay for a “storage space”, and have a “gym” where I can “shower” before “sleeping” in a secure place with a “roof”, this “homelessness” is clearly a First World Problem.
On the alcoholic side, I have never been much of a drinker at home, preferring to read a book at the bar and slowly slip the slope into drunken sexting of ex-girlfriends and holding forth on why Thomas Jefferson could never square the circle of his abstract political philosophy and that Hamilton was kind of a dick. So when I get off a job and the bars are closed, I’m left with an unusually straight bike ride and clear eyes the next morning. Now that the desk job is moving back into play, the bars are open but my books, alas, are in storage due to my technical homelessness and most of that other business is best left aside anyway. Also clearly a First World Problem.
The technical homelessness will eventually be solved, and really the details are quite boring and not especially sympathy-inducing, so I will simply say that I have learned a few things about what I actually need and what I actually want. What I actually need is a shaving kit, enough clothing variety so as not to need a laundry every three days, a laptop, a post office box, plenty of cash, and (nodding here to Douglas Adams) a towel. What makes the experience homeless, I find, is lacking my library; a sartorial selection which not only includes my fall outerwear as New York slides out of summer but also my lilac micro-check which looks so good with a black tie; the nutritional horror that is my chosen larder; a decent leather chair and a superior shower head; and the box of Legos which I never claim is a metaphor for my potential.
The novelty of counting days has already worn off and really, what’s so great about wagons anyway? Seems to me we did well ditching them when we did. But I’ve learned I don’t actually need drinking all that much, and there are benefits to avoiding it: the deeper and longer sleep, the clearer head, and the cash supply that never seems to run out when you’re actively not buying six dollar well drinks. The disadvantages of not drinking in a drinking culture, chiefly the overwhelming boredom, are difficult but possibly only because I am technically homeless and do not have my library, micro-check, et al.
And so I am caught in a cycle, which is only worthy of bemused pondering because my cycle includes several well-paying jobs where an income-free substance addiction would normally go, and because there are plenty of people out there who would love to be bored and technically homeless and accidentally sober with Legos to not assemble into something they once saw, possibly on television.