Almost Down and Out in Seattle

Friday September 21, 1979

The first day of fall and we are falling fast. Steven cannot find work and he is obsessed with failure. We expected a check from Green Bay today that has not arrived. We are down to about $4.00, but we have been that low before. Traveler’s Aid is our last hope tonight to cash a check for the weekend.

The principle of being down and out has often haunted me. I have been (and still am) obsessed by fear of destitution, of having nowhere to live – nowhere to be alive in, no shelter at all, of having nothing to eat, of knowing no one and having no money, no means of exchange, nothing of value that can be exchanged for anything to promote life. We are far from that. We have a place to come home to where it is warm and dry and there are carpets on the floors, if there are no chairs, and there is a bed and covers, if there are no pillows, and there is salad and eggs and cereal and milk. And there is money. Somewhere there is money that I can say is mine. Therefore, I have validation. There is also a college diploma. That is further validation. This is all nonsense, of course, because neither validation is validating anything at the moment but my state of mind.

Instead of the money we had yesterday, we have woven place mats and white plastic cups and red plastic bowls and a blue ceramic ashtray, and they are sitting on the floor in the afternoon sun on a burnt orange rug in company with a red and white box of Marlboros, a red lighter and an empty carton of Yoplait raspberry yogurt, yogourt avec des framboises. The floor is strewn with papers and books and playing cards and an empty can of Coors. It is not raining. We are not lying in the cover of bare autumn bushes with our faces in wet leaves, cold and sick and dying. With the rent paid as it is of now, we will not be there until November. I’ll worry in November.