Thursday, July 26, 2012


Labels have never really bothered me. Growing up, I was bullied, called names and beat up on pretty much a daily basis. And that was just from my stepdad. School was a little better but not much and a big portion of my adult life has been spent in places where I stood-out, was watched, scrutinized and called many things, most of them nice, some of them not, but I grew to ignore and block out the names and labels, at least the negative ones. I didn't let them get to me and sometimes, wore them as though they were a comfortable shirt, like being the "gora" in India, a label/nickname that continues even now.

I am back in the US for an extended time and decided that as long as I am here, I should get some things sorted, such as my driver's license, looking into going back to school and getting insurance. After the stroke, I no longer live with the thought that I am invincible and nothing is going to happen to me. How I could have ever thought that in the first place is baffling, but I did and now I don't.

Yesterday, I went to sort out my insurances. I met with a person who could advise and enroll me in the appropriate insurance program. Then the questions began. At first they were easy, she asked how old I was, where I was born, if I had any children. Then she asked about income and employment and my living situation. Those three topics have bothered me for some time. I have been unemployed for close to a year, not sure if I am going to find a job with my current limitations, I have been living with friends, staying here and there, relying on the generosity of other people. My finances are arranged by a friend. I have no savings, no assets, no car, no retirment fund, no investments and no official address.

Then the words "homeless" and "poverty" were used. I know I am not homeless in the sense that I am not sleeping on the street, but in many ways I am. Ken and his family have welcomed me in with more warmth than I could have ever asked for and I know I am welcome here for as long as I need. I have never been made to feel in any way less than family. It is the same when I visit my sister in Vegas. The welcome is wonderful and I know I can stay long as I need. But there is something psychological about not having my own place, a space that is mine. Why I let the use of that word from a stranger bother me, I don't know, but it bothers me a lot, although not a much as the other label she used.

She never came out and said it, but after her assessment of my situation, she looked at her chart to see where on the poverty level I placed. Poverty. I never once thought of myself in that way. Never. But now that word is echoing through my head. It follows me everywhere. I feel like an idiot that I never realized it before. I knew I lost everything years ago. I knew I had no income. I knew I was being supported, but I never realized what that actually meant.

I spent my life working and acheiving. I wore Dolce and Gabbana suits, Prada shoes, Paul Smith ties and Tiffany and Co. cufflinks. I stayed in five-star hotels and drank champagne, ate oysters and bought art. I had an Eames chair, a Hastens bed and collectable books. Now all that is gone and replaced with the word "poverty." I have been called many things, but nothing as cold and cutting as a being labeled a poverty-stricken person. I don't know how I didn't see it, how I didn't realize it.

I am not even sure how I got to this point, to his place in life where things just ended up so completely different than they were. I wonder if I should not have gone to India. I wonder what decisions I could have made, should have made, but I know that none of that really matters. It isn't going to change the reality. I feel so embarrassed and humiliated and even more than that, I feel broken in a way I haven't felt before.



  1. You have my are always welcome to ring me, and we can continue our chats long distance my friend.
    xoxo, Julie