I wanna go to Disneyland. There I said it.
One of the worst things about being poor and disabled is that it is very difficult, if not impossible to do things on your own to improve your situation. I am largely dependent on both, learning to do without and the generosity of others, to make things better.
It is specifically the combo of being poor and disabled that throws me into moments of bad attitude, fear and self pity. If I were wealthy, I would have access to things like targeted exercise classes that would give me strength and flexibility or treatments that would make the disability less disabling. I would be able to get out to social distractions, art, music, etc, more frequently despite my limitations. If I were only poor, I’d still be deprived of a lot of things, but I could do more things to improve my financial situation. I could go on hikes, ride bicycles, exercise more, do things that don’t cost money that my body has great difficulty with now.
I am so lucky and grateful that I do have an abundance of friends that try to include me, help me financially and treat me to things. There are days when I wonder if it would be easier somehow if I were friendless and could be used to having absolutely nothing. It’s easier to be blind than aware in so many aspects of life. There are days when I wish I had never had a taste of what it was like to be able to get out and do things that cost money, to buy things, to be productive and useful. That sounds bleak, horrible and perhaps a bit nihilistic, but can you miss something you don’t know? I’m glad I have my friends and I’m glad to have experienced some of what life has to offer so I’ll take this option with lots of gratitude.
I have also realized that I am still having trouble psychologically wrapping my head around my dramatic change in circumstance. I’m still thinking of myself as a person who should be able to afford to collect things, make art, go places and can help other people out when they are struggling. However, I am no longer in that position of privilege and chances are, without an equally dramatic change in circumstance, something like a lottery win, inheritance, sudden success or having a partner willing and able to support me, I am permanently going to be the one with my hand out, but still doing whatever I can to be of value.
An aside, for those who are not familiar with my background, In 2011 after a series of unfortunate (but not on the Snicket level of interest) events, I lost my home of 11 years, was homeless for a year, had a lifetime of belongings and very personal items in storage taken from me, went on permanent disability and have been struggling just to get a stable foothold since.
I miss things a lot. I don’t go to concerts or plays or friend’s performances very often, only when I get free or discounted tickets. If I do pay for things like food or drinks or tickets it comes directly out of my grocery budget which is laughably small. I eat once a day and go hungry frequently. I’m planning to go to karaoke with friends tonight. If I get a drink, which I’d like to, I’ll have to really think about it. Hopefully, someone or two nice people will treat me. I’m already having anxiety about whether or not people may want to go for a bite after.
There are things most people take for granted, like grooming. I scan craigslist for free haircuts and color and am lucky if I get one a year. I haven’t had a cheap manicure or pedicure in a couple of years. Though people do find me attractive, it’s hard to feel pretty when your hair is three different shades (not by choice) and your cuticles are ragged.
Recently, some racist twit who couldn’t come up with an insult of substance, went after me for my “fake hair and clown makeup” thinking that would hurt my feelings. Also, clearly she has no idea of the skill clowns have when it comes to makeup application. I have nothing on clowns. RESPECT! The wigs I wear for fun, are mostly old or hand me downs and recently a friend gave me a bunch of makeup to play with and I have been having so much fun with it! I did not take it as an insult. I did take her as a fool.
These are things that make me happy. Things that make me feel human in a good way. Because of neuropathy I can’t groom my own hands and feet. Because of hormone and nutritional changes, I can’t grow my nails out anymore. When I was homeless, I splurged a staggering $20 a month to get nails done by a woman who needed the money. Some people criticized me both for spending the money and not looking homeless enough, but no matter how harsh things were, I’d look at my hands and feel better about myself. And I also knew I was helping someone else.
Sometimes I fantasize about underwear, plain cotton underwear. I actually do have a box of sexy undies in great condition because I’ve gone without a regular beau for so long. I can safely say, I haven’t bought regular underwear in at least five years. Most of my daily briefs have extra holes in them. So classy. Also, I am busty. Larger size bras that fit are hard to find and are rarely affordable.
A few months ago, my mighty breasts finally broke my last bra. I put out a plea and a friend came to the rescue. I managed to find two bras for less than $80 at Ross and Nordstrom. Neither of them fit exactly, in fact because they are a touch too small, they are both a little painful, but they are so much better than going without. I recently did some searching on eBay and Amazon to see what they would cost in my actual size and nope, way out of my price range, around $80 each. I’ll break one or both of these soon because they don’t quite fit and because I don’t have more bras to alternate them with.
I can remember when I used to be able invest in a good bra-drobe. I could wear a different bra nearly every day of the week and I had some nice dressy bras too. I caught myself daydreaming about foundations the other day; comfy panties that only had holes for my legs and waist danced like sugarplums in my head. I imagined what it would be like to have bras for all occasions: two to three daily bras, a couple of nice dressy bras, a comfy wireless bra, a sports bra and one or two of those Tata Towels that are all the rage! Hmm that’s like the bra lottery right there. I could spend up to $1,000 on my boobs with that list, but that could last me 8-10 years so, it’s not impractical, just unattainable.
Again, that’s just a daydream. For now, my boobs make do and I am super happy to have 2 bras that sort of fit.
Travel is also something that is completely out of the question for me. If a friend or relative became ill or died, I’d have to raise emergency funds to go. I have long dreamed about travelling to Scotland and have a list of other places I want to see including archeological sites and places that house art pieces I have studied. It’s tragic to have an Art History degree and yet, to have never been to the Guggenheim or The Louvre. It’s weird to have an Anthro degree and have never seen Stonehenge, The Pyramids or The Acropolis!
I can’t even scrape up enough to take a break and drive a few hours away, up the coast for a refreshing weekend, let alone drive or fly to Seattle, Los Angeles, or farther to visit friends. I’ve never been to New York or New Orleans. I think my family might have gone to The Grand Canyon when I was too young to remember. Foreign travel is certainly a pipe dream.
Which brings me to what sparked this diatribe in the first place; Disneyland. I often see friends of mine planning adventures. They will hit the road to see shows, go to museum exhibits in Los Angeles, etc. They make it clear they would love it if I would join. I will find myself shuffling numbers around to see if there is any way I can do it, but it never works. I was sure I could make it on one of several excursions various friends took to see the Guillermo Del Toro exhibit at LACMA. I had to make do with an ebook and lots of pictures from friends. The latest of these fabulous ideas came from a friend mentioning Southwest’s $29 sale on tickets to L.A. and suggesting a bunch of us go to Disneyland. This would be so much fun, mostly because of the people going. Even if I skipped Disneyland, there are people in L.A. I would love to see!
Lord, knows I need and deserve a vacation. I haven’t had anything resembling a vacation in nearly a decade. Dreaming about getting away and frollicking with friends is one thing. Reality sets in pretty quickly. The sale ends tomorrow. Even if I could budget the $60+ for round trip, right now, I should not be spending any money. I am having to cover both full rent and storage costs now, which was unexpected. I need $60 to cover my cat’s prescription food by next week! Come November, the heat will be back on again to save money to move in December or January.
Say, the tickets were no problem. Say, regardless of funds, I resolved to do no splurges or souvenir shopping. It’s one day only so there’s no lodging fee. There is still the cost of Disneyland entry ($100) and food. Even at the thriftiest, I’m sure this would be a $250-$300 trip. I don’t have credit cards. I don’t have a partner who is going to say, “here is the money, sweetie.” Coming up with $300 to play, for me is like $3,000 to average working people. Even if someone were to gift me the money, I’d immediately come up with a list of more practical things I should be spending $300 on!
My friends will go. Hopefully, they will take lots of pictures so I can live vicariously. But it’s still a reminder that I can’t find a way on my own to live the kind of life I want to and hope I deserve. It’s bittersweet. I have this dichotomy of feeling deprived and extremely blessed all the time. I admit it, I want more blessings. I’d like to make my own blessings. I’d like to be a blessing to others more often.
I don’t want to be this poor. I don’t want to worry about housing. I want to go to museums and shows. I want to buy underwear when I need it and look pretty. I want to feel full and be able to buy the foods I need for health. I wish I could ride a bike. I wish I could change so many things.
I want to go to Disneyland with my friends.
And stuff like that; frivolous, extravagant (for me) spending.
I know that I am not alone. It’s expensive and disheartening to be poor and trapped in the poverty cycle. I know there are those struggling even harder than I am in this country with all it’s bounty. That breaks my heart.
I still want to go to Disneyland.