In November of last year, my Lover and I were living in a van parked on the side of some random street in North Carolina. One day in particular, after spending a few hours sitting in a coffee shop so that my Lover could use the internet to search for work, we arrived back at the van. I had been looking forward to going straight to bed because I wasn’t feeling well, but as we approached our van it became apparent that something wasn’t right. Taped to the driver’s side window was a notification.
Someone had reported us to animal control because of the cats. We took very good care of our cats — we made sure that they always had food and water, and kept a litter box for them despite how thoroughly unpleasant it was for us to sleep right next to it. In short, the cats were better off than us humans were, but apparently that wasn’t good enough. We were given an ultimatum: Get the cats out of the van, or else.
My Lover called animal control, and was told that it was against the law in that particular city to keep animals in motor vehicles, which was the first time that we had ever come across any sort of law like that. They were pretty rude, and didn’t care at all that the cats were healthy and happy — it was, “Get the cats out of the van, or else.” It was pretty clear this was a law specifically enacted to make life more difficult for homeless people, and had nothing to do with animal cruelty.
So, we decided to leave. We had another place that we could park, albeit with its own set of problems, and we decided that that was better than having our family torn apart. However, as soon as my Lover tried to pull away from the curb, we realized that the van had a flat tire. We didn’t have a spare, and we couldn’t go anywhere until we got the tire fixed.
I was sick, and had become feverish at this point, so my Lover had me stay huddled up to keep as warm as I could, then he started calling everyone that we knew in the area. Most of them didn’t pick up, and the ones that did could only say, “Sorry, can’t help.” No one could even offer any ideas on what we should do.
I remember being crushed by the knowledge that we were completely and utterly alone. The situation seemed hopeless.
It is a testament to my Lover’s strength that he got us out of there. He didn’t get freaked out by our lack of support, and he didn’t panic when we discovered that the jack we had wouldn’t fit under the van where it was parked. Alone, he managed to lift the van up through complicated sequence of maneuvers, and took the tire off. Alone, he rolled it to the nearest gas station a few blocks away, filled it up with air, and got it back on the van again. Even I had been too sick to help him.
There isn’t any sort of inspirational meaning for me in this memory. It was simply a bad event that happened in the middle of a bunch of other bad events, and all it did was illustrate how much it sucks to have unreliable acquaintances when a crisis pops up. At best, it reaffirms that I choose well when I pledged my life to my Lover, since I have never met anyone who could match his fortitude, but somehow that seems small when compared to the fact that the two of us were so alone in our struggles. Perhaps, one day, I will discover a meaning and grow to accept it, but for now it remains a sore spot in my heart.