I was now spontaneously homeless in Myrtle Beach in the middle of the night, and I didn’t know what I was gonna do. All those girls and homeboys who were there with us drinking and chilling were now gone, nowhere to be found. It’s like they just got back up and started back walking the strip, not saying anything like “You can come stay at our room tonight” or “You can crash with us til you get paid Friday”. Tez was lucky, because the chick he’d been seeing had a room. But I think the rest of those girls were just up and down the street all night, just kicking it with any man that had a place. Now that I was standing outside of mine with all my stuff, the girls had no more use for me, and they vanished.
Tez and his girl offered me to come and chill with them, but I knew they wanted to have some privacy. I didn’t have to interrupt them anyway, because one of my neighbors who had seen what went down was nice enough to let me sleep on his floor that night until work the next day. After my all day shift at Compass Cove I was more than beat, especially after not getting any sleep that night before from having to spontaneously move. I stopped by this hotel near 17th South Ocean Blvd named Beach Walk and went upstairs to my boy Dee’s room. I’d known him since we both worked at the Landmark (he worked in the adjacent Gazebo Restaurant inside of the same resort at the time). He had an efficiency on the third floor, a big one with two beds. I asked him if he would consider splitting the rent for the remainder of the summer. By that time my moped had gotten stolen (I still think to this day it was the landlord’s brother, the one who told his sister something to make her mad enough to kick me out in Part II of this story), and this hotel was just a short walk to my job. “Cool,” he said, “But we should get a bigger spot. There’s one right down the walkway.”
That room had a back bedroom with two beds in it, a full kitchen, and a big den area. It was Wednesday and I didn’t get paid until like Friday morning, so I crashed on the extra bed that he had that night and the next. I was off that payday, so I moved everything that he had out of his old spot and into the larger room since he had to work. I pulled one of the beds out of the back room and made the den area into like a separate bedroom for me. When you walked in, it was like you were in a bedroom with a couch, then there was the kitchen area with the stove and the bathroom, then the back room for Dee. It was cool, like a ghetto bachelor pad.
Being on the street homeless in Myrtle Beach and having no place to go is no fun. Before I moved to Sea Cove last summer where Tez and I were roommates, I stayed at a motel on Chester Street called Sand Dollar. The spiteful manager who worked there at the time kicked me out of that very small room just because I needed the toilet fixed. It just so happened that it stopped flushing on the day before rent was due. She’d gotten her ‘plumber’ to patch it up just enough to make it last a day or so, just long enough for me to have given her another week of non-refundable rent money. I was home all day the next day (she thought I was at work, and I found out that she’d lied about calling the plumber again – she’d scheduled him to come when she thought I would be gone, and I was supposed to pay her when I got home from work). I figured I might as well leave if I couldn’t even take a shit in my own place, so I called my mom and she let me sleep at her spot on the couch for a week until I could find a new room.
You know I hated that. I love my mom, but I’d rather be anywhere homeless on the Grand Strand than be in her house. We can’t live under the same roof. I knew she really didn’t want me there either, because she kept doing little shit to make me want to get out, like purposefully bumping the futon I was sleeping on that week with a loud ass vacuum cleaner after I’d worked all day, at like 2:00 in the morning. Who the hell vacuums a floor at two in the morning?
But I guess she never really had to worry about being homeless in Myrtle Beach or anywhere else for that matter, because she always had help. My grandfather let her stay in the family house out in the country for years before she moved out in town to the projects. Until you’ve been through something like being on the streets, you really don’t have the full sympathy for someone who currently is or had previously been.
I’d been out there on the streets before, but the truth is it was my choice, really. Look at all of the places I’ve mentioned already in this story where I’d lived. Every week I got paid, I’d given the landlords over three quarters of my money. I would keep my receipts, then after a while just look at how much money I’d spent on hotel apartments, studios, etc. If I could just save a little bit of that money for a little while I’d have a couple thousand dollars, then I could get a bigger apartment, maybe even leave Myrtle Beach. All that money, gone, and I still was back at square one after every paycheck. I needed a roof over my head, and I’m glad that God had given me the strength to continuously provide one for myself week after week, month after agonizing month over the years. But I felt stuck, like I couldn’t evolve no matter how hard I worked, especially with the beach only being busy for a few months a year. I had to make it out of this trap somehow.
I was sitting in my efficiency at Ocean Side Villas one day during the spring of ‘09 doing my finances shortly after getting terminated from the bartending job at the Landmark Resort. I’d been fired from there that February, but I had my rent paid up for a couple of months. I knew that the busy season was coming up soon, so I just chilled and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong, and what I could do to come up and get more stable. I was fed up with working so hard and not having anything to show for it except some drinks to ease the pain.
Average pay every two weeks was about $500. The rent was like $175 per week, so that’s $350 (luckily I didn’t have utilities to pay). The IRS payments were about $70 per month, so that was another $35 each payday. My phone bill was like $50. Okay, so that was about $435. Then there was the commute to work. With just over $60 left to get through the next two weeks with (Thank God for food stamps), at least $30 would go towards two weeks bus fare if I took it every day both to and from work. But I couldn’t ride it home since I got off at like 2:00 in the morning and no busses ran past 11:00 pm in the spring and summer (none ran past 6pm in the fall and winter).
There was the option of riding my bike to work and saving that money, but it was fucking hot outside in the mid-afternoon. I didn’t mind riding it home after work – it was at night and much cooler. So, I’d put my bike on the rack on the front of the Coastal RTA bus and pay the $1.50 one way five days out of the week. $1.50 times 10 work days was $15. That left me with like $45 to have as a cushion until next pay day. That money usually got drank or went up in weed smoke every two weeks.
It seemed to me that the only way I would come up is to trim down the rent somehow. I couldn’t find any good roommates at the time (most of my homies sold weed or crack, and I didn’t wanna be in a place with them and mess around and get arrested) and I didn’t know what to do. One day I was sitting outside on the porch with some friends and I heard one of them say that he knew a dude who was in Myrtle Beach homeless with a job who was living in a storage room saving a bunch of cash.
“Really,” I thought. “Hmmmm….”
(To be continued in Part IV. To continue reading the story, click here.)