It’s hard to get laid. Even harder when you’re homeless. I live in a parking lot in Austin, Texas. It’s surrounded by baseball fields where little kids hit tee balls and bigger ones slug softballs. On Friday nights I watch the games. Next to my spot is a dumpster. It’d be fun to shit in there but my parking lot has a bathroom. For some this structure acts as a four walled crack chamber. Beside the toilet I find burnt foil and straws. On the outer wall of the stall there’s a huge scrawl of graffiti. It’s been painted over in beige but you can read what it says: HOWARD DEAN SUCKS IT FOR METH. Other bums, the true bums, stream in and out with beer, making way for the woods. At night gutter punks sit in the stands though I don’t know what they do. There’s also more car folk like me. I see the same vehicles each weekend. Camper vans, topped pickups, a car with tinted windows hiding a rolled out sleeping bag. We all live here together. This lot, this land, they make our home.
I live other places too, jumping around the city from spot to spot. I have a network of places I go, careful to not sleep in one for too long so as to avoid suspicion. I look for spots with no sidewalk, adjacent to woods, away from houses. The less chance of someone walking near the better. I’ve bedded down in true shitholes, aside dirt lots, streets littered with unchained pitbulls. Places where I’ve woken to the sound of not so far off gunshots. But still I feel better there than somewhere rich. Poor people are less paranoid. Less likely to report someone sleeping peacefully in public. Despite these best efforts the Austin PD have been called on me a couple times. People are uncomfortable with someone who lives in their car. It’s one of the side effects of living your life as a bum.
It’s not all bad. It’s actually almost all good. Austin is a great town to be homeless in. There’s a spring fed pool with free showers. In there I wash up with the real hobos, the ones who sleep on piss soaked cement and have nothing. I examine their scars, their tats, their cocks. The Texas weather is warm. I have a series of libraries to fill my days. I see the same homeless folk in them all the time. Nobody reading books. The building just a warehouse for the displaced, a source of free computers and climate control. The homeless drift off before security guards rap their tables to wake them. I’m sure they have trouble finding safe sleep so doze in the day.
I wish the world were more forgiving of the homeless, felt no need to interfere in someone’s life for no reason. I’m one of the lucky few. I have shelter. Good sleep. Money. I barely feel homeless. I only remember that I am when it’s bedtime or I’m trying to find a woman to be in my life. Other than being alone I have it good. I walk the paths along the river, sit in my car outside the library and write. I swim the creek and hike the greenbelt trail through its rocky, weedy paths. Sometimes I’ll do fifteen miles in a day, others just a couple before I sit to sunbathe. These things are my routine but also the building blocks of a solitary life. I do everything alone. I don’t always like it but that’s the way it is. It’s hard to keep people in your life when you’re always drifting.
It’s not that I’ve fallen down an awful hole. I’m sitting on more money than I’ve ever had. Sometimes a thought appeals to me. Go to some city I love, get a place, and fuck off for ages. Get a job, find a girlfriend, live a normal life. But I don’t. I get uneasy with placidity, restless when rooted. I’ve given up relationships, shunned friendships, and faded from the world of stability to live this life. I used to date some incredible people and have a circle of friends. Now it’s no more, at best an echo of what once was. The acclimation has been a long process. I first slept in my car over six years ago when I started traveling after college. Each year it happened more and more. A handful of times. Then a dozen. Then a couple. I’ve slept in here hundreds of times. Now every night ends with me asleep in the trunk of my car. I’m in there or some odd living situation for large chunks of the year. It’s my normal. Living close to the bone. Even though I saved some cash I didn’t know what to do with it. In the end I chose to remain the same.
Because I’m single, homeless, and jobless, I have immense amounts of free time. I fill it with many things but some weekends I slurp box wine and walk around. One Friday I hit the wine bag then went to a comedy show in the back of a coffee bar. Afterward I hit the bag again then walked downtown. The skyscrapers and office buildings glowed from across the river. One was lit in Christmas colors as this was December. The lights looked fuzzy after passing through the prism of a drunk brain. I got over the river and hit the edge of downtown. I headed uphill on a street but it led to a wire fence and empty lot. I hopped the fence, then another, to get back to a street. I wound up behind a group of people going out, one of them drinking a beer. She set it down at a stoplight then crossed the street. To my delight the beer was half full and I gulped it down. It was the closest my lips had been to a lady in a while.
I walked to sixth street, a series of city blocks shut down to traffic on the weekends. Thousands of college kids flitted in and out of bars lining both sides of the street. I was thirty, approaching a time when I’d feel too old for this. Horsedrawn Christmas carriages milled nearby. Cop cars and bike taxis sat at the intersections of each shut down block, both waiting to do their job. Cardboard and garbage left by drunks lay scattered on the street. I took in the city vibe then set to looking for food on the ground. There’s always good eats dropped by drunk people.
I found a slice of broccoli pizza face down on the cement. It was cold but only had a few bites missing. I scarfed it down then grabbed a hot slice of half eaten pepperoni off a paper plate. I found another slice intact atop a trash can. Sometimes people buy food then leave it out for another. I’m always there to nab it. I took the whole piece, thankful to not eat something that had been in someone else’s mouth. A fat homeless chick with her bare tits out came up and asked for some of the fries I was eating out a trash can. I gave her plenty. At the foot of the can sat a box of donuts with three uneaten treats inside. I grabbed the box then put it down. I’d inhaled enough garbage for one night.
I hustled back across the river and retired to the parking lot where I live. My stomach had too much shit in it. Pizza swirling on choppy waves of wine. I jammed fingers down my throat to yack it up. The pizza came out in doughy blobs, building up in the grass before me. My eyes watered and I flicked puke off my fingers. I got to my car, swished Listerine, then drifted to sleep. The wine bag lay at my side.
The next morning I needed to burn off the calories so set out on park trails. I walked by a hobo and his dog perched by the river. I’ve seen him there looking up porn on his laptop. It’s hard to get laid when you’re homeless. Today he only had his dog and a book. Just past him was a bridge, a sticker on its beam saying LIVE A GREAT STORY. A good motto but not always easy to achieve. I was thankful as always to be separate from the daily stresses that burden so many. No job, no kids, no debt hanging over me. No girlfriend, not even someone close. Those were also the realities of the life I was living. I felt free but at the same time wondered what that freedom meant if I barely used it. If all it gave was being alone and eating garbage. But I also spent a lot of time traveling, stuck in nature, exploring the beautiful nooks of America. Those two things seemed like separate lives but they were both my own. I told myself not to forget how lucky I am to live the life I do. It was weird and shambling but it was mine and I claimed it. I mostly just hoped I’d find a way to make it intersect with a lady.
I met a cute black girl at a comedy show. She’d responded to my internet shit saying let’s hang out and see where it goes. She didn’t know I was homeless. Even if I disguised it by calling myself a traveler I didn’t think she’d see me. I’d had intermittent success with dating the last few years but it drained my emotional energy. I was now just trying to live a life of casual hookups but it’s hard to get laid when you’re homeless. Maybe I wanted more but I didn’t know. Anything beyond sex seemed impossible given the life I was living. Dating was hard enough when I was just a normal dude in a house. As it turns out, living in your car is not an aphrodisiac.
I knew we were incompatible the second I suggested box wine and she replied that’s gross. But she was black and beautiful, my two biggest weaknesses. I couldn’t say no. I didn’t know what I’d do if this went anywhere. I told her I was crashing on a couch as a precursor in case the night evolved and she wanted to use my place. The trunk of a car isn’t meant for banging. I parked outside the coffee shop where we were meeting to watch some comedy. I squeezed the wine bladder into a mug, guzzling its liquid with greedy gulps. I took it to the perfect point but then had another. For years a little booze helped me skate through social situations. With bum life I felt a need to overcompensate. It was a poor medicine for my social anxiety, a prescription too prone to overdose. I went inside the coffee shop and waited for the girl to arrive.
She was late but sat beside me. We leaned into each other and laughed at the comics. I put my hand on her thigh and rubbed. Things seemed fine. After the show we walked to an outdoor graffiti gallery — cement foundation built into a hill that’s sprayed over by artists and amateurs. It was raining and the ground was sloppy. Trash cans overflowed with wet garbage and old paint bottles. Teens sat at the top of the hill drinking. I wanted to go up and peer out at the city. Witness the glow. But it was too gross, too wet for her. I forget that not everyone is fascinated by garbage, unphased by a little of life’s grit. I tried making conversation but she said little and asked me nada. My drunk wore off and I felt the weight of awkwardness. I could tell this was falling apart. We walked down the street then called it a night. I wasn’t even back up the block before she was in a taxi. I walked to my car and went to bed.
That same night I got another offer. I was already in my trunk, slipped into dreams. I woke to the buzz of an incoming email. It was a 51 year old offering to blow me. I said it had to be at her place to which she agreed. I didn’t say I was homeless. I had trouble finding her place so was late in coming. She kept texting saying she wanted my cock in her mouth. I figured I’d spray jizz to her tonsils then drive to a safe spot for sleep. After twenty minutes of wrong turns I arrived. Her apartment building was gated so I parked on a construction road beside it. A resident in their car opened the gate and I walked through. Her complex was a maze of buildings but finally I found hers. I didn’t have her door number so stood outside texting. It started to rain. My clothing grew damp. She didn’t reply. It’s how it goes. Promise that yields nada. People flake out, fall asleep, change their mind and say nothing. I can’t complain because I do it too.
After ten minutes I walked back to the gate. It was closed and I didn’t know the code to open it. I lugged myself to its top and crouched to assess the situation. The tip of a gate bar nudged in my ass. It was a good distance down and the iron was slick with rain. I almost slipped, the drop far enough to hurt me. Wouldn’t that be great. I didn’t get blown but I did break bones. Slowly I lowered myself, hopping the last two feet. I wasn’t mad at the lady. The internet is an apparition and that’s the way it goes. I got back to my parking lot and fell asleep. Another empty night. Ever since I decided to live in my car and fade from place to place there’s been a lot of those. Sometimes it works. Most times it doesn’t. The world is ever changing and always ready to leave you at its wayside. I try hard to not forget that.
As I age I’m filled with wariness, a fear that life will be a series of unfulfilled expectations. That experience can be limiting if it doesn’t involve others. I tie up meaning in interaction and when it doesn’t play out as imagined I feel I’ve failed. Sex is a lens to witness others. A shortcut to their innermost. We can lay naked and lay it bare even if we just met. A machete through the jungles of shame and insecurity. The posturing we do to protect ourselves or feel above others. A shared experience can bring that. You step back from the world, from fear of perception, and communicate more of who you are. But it’s temporary. Euphoria appears then fades. You notice the sweat on your body, the shrunken penis that just expelled. You can sit and chat but once you leave the bedroom you walk into a different world. The time of uncaring is gone. It’s memory lingers but no longer directs you. Sex isn’t the only avenue but it is an easy one. I like shortcuts. Bypassing the hard stuff. It rarely works but still I try.
I thought about the hobo and his dog I saw by the river close to Christmas. He had a companion, something I lacked. I kind of envy the camaraderie I witness as the homeless sit outside the library or group together at stoplights flying signs for change. But I feel separate from them, the mentally ill, the addicts, the downtrodden. Those shambling through with wet bedrolls and paper sacked cans of liquor. My only real vices are coffee, cum, and hitting the wine bag to hurl myself into an unknown. Shooting loads in questionable holes. Pouring mystery liquids down my own. They didn’t seem to be enough to put me out there with them. THEM. Those others. I was educated, from the middle class with a loving family. I have cash and a car. I wasn’t them. But still it’s hard to get laid when you’re homeless.
Austin won’t be my forever home. Soon I’ll leave for another place, another state. The question always itching on my mind of if it’s worth it. If a better balance can be found. If I’ll always feel so restless. I like experimenting with different lifestyles but I don’t know if this one is better than the last. I often love it but there are times when I wonder if I’m doing all I can. I know I should hunker down and do the hard work to bring and keep people in my life. But I like shortcuts. The ones that fail but sometimes succeed. Sex can be a precursor to connection. Connection a precursor to sex. I needed to decide which order to tackle them, if I could sort the tangle that is finding intimacy with others. Friends, partners, people who just want to fuck, it can be a mess to find, keep, and know which is which.
I’ve dated incredible women, been in long relationships. It would be dishonest to say I don’t sometimes wonder if I’m making the right choices. That maybe I should go back to that life and the challenges that come with it. I rarely care but there’s nights where it bites hard. Where I feel the absence of others. Those are the tough ones. When they come it’s without warning, a reminder that the life I live has given me things but taken others. I’m not embarrassed by it. It’s been great to live at the bottom. To pick up and scatter. To know I can live in a way so opposite from others, from how I was for years. But this life requires care, self examination, a wariness to never slip down so far you can’t come back up. I know there’s an ever present danger that in time my trunk will become a coffin. Locked in there with a hand forever down my pants. All alone. Stowed away from the world. Each load cementing me more and more into a solitary life. A temporary escape that builds toward nothing. A method to drain the poison from my brain. If only it was a girl’s hand and not mine. Then maybe I’d feel less restless. But somehow I doubt it.
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