The news all week has been about the giant abstractions of the giant wall-street bailout, but what I can’t stop thinking about is one particular house in Oceanside, California. I’m not quite sure how to blog this story, but I need to tell it, so I’m going to try.
This week, we saw an old friend, one of Sophie’s early caregivers. She’s been going through some sudden life-changes which got her depressed. She left her jobs and is living off her savings right now, so she moved into an inexpensive room in a house in Oceanside. But here’s the thing that bothers me: she’s got the only room to herself of anyone in that house.
The house-owner couldn’t pay his mortgage after his divorce, so, to stave off foreclosure, he got some plywood and transformed his living-room into three separate little-small rooms that he rents out to others. He even rents out the garage. It’s not a big house, it’s a typical little California bungalow, and what scares me is that this is probably also a typical story, only it’s not one that I usually hear.
Our friend says she is the only one in the house who speaks English — that’s part of the isolation that the rest of her housemates live with — even though many of the others were born in the United States. But mostly, I think, the reason I don’t hear about this is not because I don’t speak Spanish well, but because people don’t talk about this in any language. Rents in my neighborhood seem to be $3000 a month for a two-bedroom, while in my same neighborhood, a carwash done by hand by three guys working diligently costs only $5. Where can those carwash guys possibly afford to live?
In my friend’s house in Oceanside, there are two adults living in a garage with their newborn twins. They crack the garage door open to get ventilation. There are no windows in that garage. I keep thinking about those twins, that family. I cannot imagine raising infants in a garage. How do they nap? How do they bathe? How does anyone get any quiet? They’re not homeless, but they almost might as well be.
There are three babies living in this house (counting the twins in the garage), and also one two-year-old with visitation rights who is there most of the time, and also two elementary-age kids, who – despite a few years in the Oceanside public schools – still don’t speak English. All those kids’ parents adds up to nine adults in this house, I think, although it might be seven: I started to lose track, really. There is only one kitchen. There is only one bathroom.
I don’t know what the fuck to do with this information. I helped my friend find a much better room. But what about her housemates? Or those infant twins?