Q. Where would you like to be?
A. I’m not sure.
Q. Why not?
A. Both places have merit and I’m not sure which is better.
Q. What places are you talking about?
A. My old apartment and my new apartment. That is, if they decide to rent to me.
Q. Why would they not decide to rent to you?
A. Could be a number of reasons. I don’t have a whole lot of references. I was homeless for a long time. If they ask for the last three landlords, we could be going back a while. I don’t have a credit card or a credit rating.
Q. No credit rating? How is that possible?
A. Security freezes were placed on my credit files in 2003, and I haven’t been able to figure out how to get them off.
Q. Why did they place security freezes on your credit files?
A. Identity theft.
Q. Someone stole your identity?
A. They tried to. Anyway, I was given three 6-10 digit numbers, to be known only by me and each of the three credit bureaus. That was 19 years ago. 12 of those years were spent being homeless and borderline-homeless in the Bay Area. Do you think I memorized those pin numbers?
Q. Can’t you call them?
A. Whenever I call them, I have to prove that I am who I am, and not the identity thief.
Q. Is that impossible?
A. Probably not.
Q. Then why not call them?
A. I suppose I must. It seems an arduous process and frankly I bailed on it due to its inapplicability to my life. There’s never yet been a time in the past 19 years when I thought someone would need to run a credit check on me.
Q. Not when you landed your present place?
A. Interviewed with them at 4 in the afternoon one day, they called 9 the next morning to say “everything checked out.” They couldn’t possibly have checked my references even in that period of time. They just liked me.
Q. What about your iPhone?
A. It was a gift from a friend.
Q. What about cars?
A. What about ’em?
Q. You haven’t bought a car in 19 years?
A. Bought a car? I haven’t even driven a car!!
Q. So you’re afraid you might not get the place because they can’t run a credit check on you?
A. Kinda. But that’s fairly superficial. I’m just going to tell them what I’ve told everybody else for the last 19 years, which is basically what I just told you. I live in a debt-free world and I wanna keep it that way. If it’s meant to be, they’ll rent to me.
Q. Do they like you?
A. Yes. And I like them.
Q. What about the place itself?
A. The place looks even better in real life than it did in the ad. They call it a “studio apartment” but they could have gotten away billing it as a one-bedroom. The bedroom is a separate room from a larger room that’s a combined kitchen and dining room. There’s a bathroom in between on one side of a small hallway, and a large closet space adjoining the bedroom on the other. Best part is that I’m on the top floor of three, one bedroom wall is to the back window with a view, the other to an outside wall of the house. So the worry of bothering neighbors and vice-versa is fairly well eliminated.
Also of course it’s two blocks away from work. My commute being so short, it will eliminate a lot of the “junk miles” I put in when I walk and ride my bike for transportation. There are beautiful running trails abounding in the area, and I will soon be putting in real miles on the roads. Being a pedestrian has really taken a chunk out of my training. I’m eager to start exercising for real.
Q. So if they accept your application, you will take the place?
A. Still not sure.
Q. Why not?
A. Like I said, both places have merit.
Q. What’s the merit of your present place?
A. Stability. I’ve lived here longer than I’ve lived in any single living situation since the 90’s. It’s stable. I like the landlords, and they like me. I’ve lived here nearly five years now.
Q. So if a thing works, don’t fix it?
A. Right. The only reason it’s not working is because I can’t get to my job in a different town in another State very easily. On a good day I can ride my bike. We’ve had a lot of bad days lately, and I don’t like bumming rides. Not to mention, the bus is $15 one way.
Q. What else?
A. The job doesn’t pay particularly well.
Q. Then why do you work there?
A. Because I love the craft, and apparently I’m a good worker among workers there. I love musical theatre, but I also like these people in particular. They’re honest, good people. We communicate well, and I can trust them.
Q. But are you afraid that if you leave your present apartment, you might lose the new apartment?
A. For one thing, a lot of people these days are having a hard time keeping up. For another thing, I’ve already been homeless, I’ve already lost more living situations than I can count. Homelessness just — looms. It always does — even here, where I’m thought to be stable.
Q. Who thinks you to be stable?
A. My landlord.
Q. And the new landlord?
A. Will have to take the old landlord’s word for it.
Q. Uh — do you want to move?
A. Not really. I become sad when I think about it.
A. Yeah. This place was supposed to become my home. They said it was the Heart of the Arts. But it’s not really. Whenever I tried to get people interested in my show, I kinda got the feeling anyone who counted figured me for a semi-homeless dude on a weird trip. I doubt they even read the script, or listened to the music.
Q. What about these new people?
A. This guy’s already talking about producing my show, practically on principle. It’s a different vibe, these people are practical, businesslike, no nonsense. I like that. No academic fluff. Specifically, I don’t have to worry about changing the word “homeless” to “houseless” every time it appears in the script. They’re not caught up in the intellectual labyrinth. They’re more real.
Q. Would you then conclude that the job, despite low pay, is worth it?
A. I would.
Q, Then why not move?
A. Because I’m change-resistant.
Q. Is that a good thing?
Q. Anything else?
A. It’s like this. Just because I’ve been homeless a lot doesn’t mean that I have to stay here forever, whether things are working or not. When it comes right down to it, I’m just afraid of taking the risk.
Q. So you’re thinking the right thing to do is to move?
A. Yes. But again, they need to approve my application. Today I’m putting down $100–a holding fee. If they approve me, it will go toward the deposit. Then I don’t have to worry about first-and-last till August 9th, when the place is available. Many things can happen between now and then.
Q. And if they don’t approve your application?
A. Then I stay where I am.
Q. What about the job?
A. I guess I keep looking–either for a place to live, a car, or both.
Q. When was the last time you drove a car?
A. Almost twenty years ago.
Q. Are you afraid to drive?
Q. Then why not get a car?
A. Cars cost money.
Q. But apartments also cost money, don’t they?
A. I believe the rent differential will be $70 in my favor on the studio apartment. I gotta get this place cleaned up spick though. It would be good to get the deposit back and make a smooth lateral move.
Q. Anything else?
A. I should only move if God wants me to move. My own feelings are secondary.
Q. Why is that?
A. Because God’s always right, and I am often wrong.
Q. How can you find out if God wants you to move?
A. Something like this requires a threefold confirmation. Not to be legalistic, but it ought to be confirmed in fellowship, in the Word, and in experience. 1 John 5 and all that.
Q. Has it been thus thrice confirmed?
A. I haven’t seen anything in the Word. Only fellowship and experience have confirmed it.
A. Talking it over with my pastor for example. He reminds me that mental health awareness will be greater in Washington than in Idaho. Washington’s kinda a purple State, Idaho beet red.
A. The signs are telling me to move.
A. “Signs” isn’t quite the right word. Scripture says: “My sheep hear my voice.” I heard his voice a couple times–three times actually, twice in close succession–and each time He was urging me to move.
Q. How did you hear His voice?
A. That I can’t explain. But it’s the experience of hearing Him that keeps me believing. His sheep hear His voice.
Q. Isn’t the Word where you usually hear him?
A. Yes. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” But this time, no. Three things happened, and each time they happened, something inside me said: “God is talking to me right now.” I usually trust that. It’s just that if it’s not confirmed in the Word, it could be a false voice, and imposter, etc.
Q. Were you looking for a sign?
A. No. I actually was not even going to consider moving until I heard His voice the first time.
Q. How did you hear His voice?
A. You asked me that already and the question is impossible to answer. It’s like trying to prove there’s a God. It’s not possible. It’s something that is repeatedly confirmed in experience. This is why we remain Christians and this is why the world thinks we’re crazy.
A. That’s another thing! These people do NOT treat me like I’m crazy!
Q. Has somebody recently been treating you like you’re crazy?
A. Yes but they don’t know they’re doing it.
Q. Why don’t they know?
A. Beats me. I can just tell that they think their treatment of me is reasonable, but it’s really not. But I stopped talking to them about it long ago. It just started to feel pointless.
Q. Is there a sense in which you may be escaping these people by moving to another town?
A. I fear that. This is why I need more confirmation.
Q. When was the last time God spoke to you through the Word?
A. You mean directly, specifically, majorly? About three months ago, I think. I read something about Moses and drew a parallel to my life, and I got that sense again, I “heard His voice” — it’s inexplicable but I heard it.
Q. What did He say?
A. I really don’t want to tell you. Not sure how we got off onto any of this, quite frankly. I appreciate your line of questioning, but some of this stuff is, well–personal. It’s not meant to be shared. Let’s focus on the living situation–and maybe reconvene next week.
The Questioner is silent.