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'I'm Indoors' 

This is a new beginning after a story that has been long, slow, painful and ever so drawn out.

I am (finally) back indoors, in an actual apartment! Not some long-term, extended stay motel nor the local Rescue Mission nor a cold and lonely tent in the middle of nowhere. A real apartment. It's a one bedroom with a nice living room, a cozy kitchen, a bedroom big enough for a California king, several closets and a front and back porch. There's even a gorgeous view — the bay from my living room window and the mountains from the back porch.

I moved in with nothing but the clothes on my back into this large, cold, empty (empty!) apartment, just four rooms and me. It's somewhat strange, wandering around in this big place. It's been so long but, eventually, I'll have stuff again and I'll get the hang of being back indoors.

I have actually stood in the middle of my living room and just stared in awe and went, "Well, dang."

It's been cold and rainy, with a chance of hail at any given moment. But I'm indoors.

Little by little and piece by piece, I'm slowly getting my new house together. I even got a brand new bed. I've never had one of those before. So those of you out there who are still in limbo, keep a stiff upper lip and remember one step at a time. You will get there as long as you just keep plodding along.

Now comes the tricky part, the first big paying of the bills. I really didn't have much in the way of bills when I was homeless. I knew where to get food, I knew where to get clothes and my daily needs. And I've always been kind of low budget. I guess that's from growing up a hick farm boy.

I'm turning 62 and I don't have any credit rating. I've never bought a thing on credit. I don't have any credit cards, just my bank card.

Now I have to pay rent. And I got my first electric bill, and that's $224 but $200 is for a deposit. And I have to pay the cable and, of course, my trusty cell phone. I'm hand-delivering my money orders to their destinations so I know the bills got paid. I can guarantee it will be a long day.

It will start at 7 a.m. and I'll do my little route downtown and get money orders and a bus pass. After I pay a couple little bills in Eureka, I'll jump on a bus and go to Arcata to pay rent, come back to town and pay the electric out past the mall and, after that, I still have to get necessities for the house, which I'm trying to get in some kind of order so I'm sure I actually live there.

In April I'll be 62 and I'll be able to get my SSI from working all my life. I'm not trying to get rich by any means and, since I am a disabled veteran, I was able to get an apartment and get out of the rain, so I am slowly getting there. But I just want to not have to stress about the danged bills all the time and know my rent's paid, my cable's paid and I even have something that resembles groceries in the fridge, and maybe even more than two changes of clothes — just for something different.

I've got a nice start. I've already got most of the furniture I need and I don't have holes in my clothes. But I do want to be able to go to a restaurant or maybe buy a new pair of pants or go see a movie without having to put something off for a month.

Everybody kind of lives there most of the time these days, I'd just like to have enough to make it most of the way through the month without squeaking by. I've heard of such things but, perhaps, it's only a legend.

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Robert Hager

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