I Am Waters

Today is 03.30.2020

Homeless In Santa Fe | Santa Fe , New Mexico | Santa Fe Reporter

I first met Martha a few months ago, when she sought help from The Life Link Santa Fe Clubhouse and Wellness Center, where I work. Together, we drafted an article for the Santa Fe Reporter [cover story, Jan. 25: “Homeless in Santa Fe”] describing Martha’s challenges in overcoming homelessness. Before we finished, Martha had found a temporary place to live at a sustainability complex outside Santa Fe, where she could work a few hours each week in exchange for reduced rent. There was no flush toilet and limited use of water and electricity.

“It’s sort of commune-like,” Martha told us after she moved in. “My brother told me not to drink any of that funny Kool-Aid if they start passing it out.” She had a roof over her head, and the area was beautiful, but living 30 minutes from Santa Fe made coming to town for support, job searching and socializing another catch-22 in the struggle to become and stay healthy.

Before submitting our first article, Martha and I talked about putting her life down in words.

“I don’t think I’m ready to write about what’s happening to me as I’m living it,” she told me. “I’m sorry. I’m afraid everything I write will come out whiny or angry. Maybe that’s OK, but I need some time and distance before I do it. And my stupid computer battery only lasts about 15 minutes, and I can’t stay plugged in where I live because of limited electricity use.”

The end of March came quickly, though, and Martha had to move again. Early one morning, she came into the clubhouse—which is not a clinical facility, but rather a resource where members can take yoga classes, learn coping skills to ease anxiety and depression, work toward their General Educational Development certification and receive help finding, applying for and maintaining employment—looking completely exhausted. She had found a new place that was closer to town, but she still didn’t have a flush toilet.

Some days, when the fear starts to crawl up Martha’s spine again and the what if’s begin to fill her gut, she’ll say, “It’s going to be all right, isn’t it? It is, isn’t it? Just tell me it is, OK?”

I say, “It is going to be OK.” But we’ve both lived long enough to know that OK doesn’t mean easy, and OK today may not be relative to what it used to be. OK means you have people who will not give up on you.