Any of you that have been vicariously following my exploits through mentions in articles and weekend notes know that I've been on the move quite a bit recently. What may not be clear however is that for the last five months I have been homeless. No, I'm not dragging my belongings around on a shopping cart and bathing in the local cafe's bathroom sink, but, I have not had an actual place of residence since August. At age forty, I certainly never thought I would find myself couch surfing again and not for this extended amount of time, but this is what life has thrown at me and so I'm adapting the best I can.
I have been living out of three suitcases for a while now. Two contain my clothes and various knick knacks that make me feel a bit grounded. The third carries all three of my systems, their various controllers, wires and some games. Now, some people would write this off as blatant idiocy. Carrying around thousands of dollars worth of equipment and games from place to place as I travel, but seeing as I am a games journalist, these are the tools of my trade. My systems have accompanied me to such exotic locales as New Haven, Baltimore, Atlanta and then made the cross country journey in a Uhaul out to San Francisco. Fortunately, my friends have all been very accommodating of me and all my technology. But you don't really realize what a burden it all can be until you are constantly changing passwords to get on new wireless networks, digging out the old cables for your systems when the place your staying doesn't have the right hook ups and I won't even go into what it's like to try and set up Rock Band in a tiny living room filled with my suitcases wedged behind large pieces of 60's collector's furniture (pictured).
I had a pretty sweet set up in Atlanta before I left. All the systems, a nice big HDTV, surround sound and all the trimmings. I was able to enjoy the TV for about the first six months I owned it and now it's sitting in storage, awaiting the day when I finally find an apartment in the outrageous SF housing market. I went for a while feeling pretty sorry for myself until I woke up one day and realized, "Hey, I might be homeless, but I'm probably the most technologically advanced homeless person in SF." I also observed that if it weren't for the need of having my systems set up, I could get by with just an iPhone and my laptop. Scary, but true.
Another incident that really changed my outlook on things was my run in with the waitress in Amarillo, TX who was trying to acquire a Wii for her partially paralyzed son. I thought about how easy it was for me when I acquired my systems and how I may not have an apartment, but I probably had more electronic equipment in the back of that truck than this woman and her son had ever dreamed of. It was then that I decided to make it my mission to get this mother and her son a Wii for Christmas. Fortunately, through the help of other kind souls I accomplished my goal and the Wii along with accompanying games arrived to her on Christmas Eve. It was an event that made my holiday.
As corny and cliche' as it might seem, I learned a valuable lesson this season. No matter how little it seems you may have, there is always someone with less. Having to blow up my bed every night and relying on swag t-shirts I got from conventions for fresh clothes may be a pain in the ass (why the hell are they always XXL?), but at least I have my games, my health, a job that I love and most importantly, my family and friends to support me.