The Road Home

The Road Home

From Annika Maxwell

I am homeless when I have a home, and I have no money to get there, because Covid has stripped me of everything. With enough money for a plane ticket, I could be safe again.

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The Short Version: I need to get home to my beloved. My student loans never came in; the school says a lot of people are having the same problem this quarter, potentially because of politics. I am stuck, and I need help funding my ability to leave, because our lease starts November 1, 2020. I need $1800 to cover moving costs.

A Love Story: To say my life has been difficult is an understatement. A litany of the things that have gone wrong or happened to me over my 40 years of life sounds like a bad novel. Abandoned daughter, homeless teen, kidnapped, abused and trafficked, kicked out of school, attacked and harmed, a dozen lost babies, partners who either cheat or leave because I can't make children for them, harsh judgement from family and peers. That's only the beginning but the more I list, the more demoralized I become. The pattern should be clear.

I have two teenage boys whom I love more than my own life. They are the only ones who survived, and I had to really fight to have them. Giving birth to my eldest almost killed me. Twice. I am divorced from their father because of cheating.

The man of my next serious relationship left me after two years because I couldn't give him a baby, even though he knew that within the first week of dating me. It's no secret. He just claimed he didn't want them, at first. His rejection crushed me so hard I wasn't sure I was capable of loving again. However, I still had two boys to raise and a life to live. I persevered.

Last summer, I graduated from college with an Associate's in Interior Design. This was a huge deal for me because I never graduated high school or even got good grades. I got kicked out for being a small-town goth in the 90's, because of the stigma attached to it at the time. I graduated college with honors, after taking 20+ credits per quarter so I could do it in 18 months instead of two years. I needed to support my boys, and I wanted to inspire them. I had to succeed. 

But I also had a deadbeat roommate who now owes me $10,000 I will never see a penny of. I had to fight so hard to keep that apartment, so I could have a roof over my boys' heads. I took a side job as a Sunday School teacher just to almost make ends meet, and still had to beg and borrow to keep us going. 

Last December, I lost everything. I couldn't hold onto our home without my student loans, and I couldn't find work. I lost the apartment. I lost my kids. I lost most of the things I owned, including some family heirloom furniture that just had to be left behind in the apartment, along with so much else. I did the only thing that made sense at the time, and tried to move in with someone whom I had managed to become attached to. Maybe it wasn't love, but it was something important, and I believed we could have made a real go of it.

However, that was Helsinki, and I couldn't stay when COVID hit. The EU closed its borders and I had to leave. We all thought it would blow over in a couple of months, so my plan was to return to Helsinki in June or July. Obviously, this hasn't happened. Not only did the borders never open, but that was over quickly, again for reasons I couldn't change.

This summer, I became homeless. My heart was dust. I had no desire left, not for anyone. This was a major break from my normal, because I always bounce back from heartbreak. I always keep looking forward. But between these two men, I stopped wanting to be touched, at all. I tried to move on, to seek comfort in people I have loved before, but I felt hollow. That had never happened to me before, and I resigned myself to the idea that love is something that happens to other people, or for brief flashes of time, but for me? I am not lovable. I am not the person people stay loyal to. I am a waystop on people's journeys to wherever it is they're actually going, the person they're with while they're waiting for the one they want. I tried to come to terms with this.

Then I met my love through a game we both enjoy. 

It started out quietly, but as we slowly started to get to know each other, it became clear that we have so much in common it's astounding. One day I said to him that I was done with relationships, so I might not be the best person to advise him on his relationship with his then-girlfriend, but the way he described her, it sounded like she wasn't as interested in him as she professed. People who care about each other don't go for a week without bothering to even text, never mind anything else that was happening. I told him he deserved to be happy--everyone does--and he didn't sound like he was. I had no stake in his romantic life; I was done with relationships. I said as much. He asked me why.

"People find that the idea of me is far preferable to the reality," I said. He found that hard to believe, but I thought, he'll find out eventually. Everyone eventually leaves. "I have this silly dream," I said, "that there would be a man out there somewhere who would actually be loyal. Someone who won't cheat or abandon me. Someone who won't lie to me. Someone who pours themselves into the relationship the same way I do."

"Here I am," he said, and I laughed. Yeah, a young and incredibly handsome man with a girlfriend. Men like him exist, sure, but not for me. Clearly he was not the sort of man who was going to be interested in a 40-year-old mother. Surely he wants a beautiful girl to have his children and make him a happy man. I wrote it off.

He was serious.

He left his girlfriend that same week, citing the same problems he always had: she was inattentive, self-absorbed, prone to racism. Up to that point, he had never once breathed a word of being attracted to me. He never even flirted.

It wasn't long before he explained to me in very clear detail exactly how he feels about me. 

He doesn't want a girl, he wants a woman. He doesn't want children, and the fact that I can’t have any is actually a bonus for him; he feels there are too many people in the world and kids annoy him after awhile anyway. The fact that I have teenagers is amazing to him because he feels teenagers can actually engage in meaningful ways with intellectual pursuits. He wants to talk to them, teach them things. He wants us all to travel the world together. He wants to take care of me. For a woman who actually wants traditional gender roles and has been repeatedly abandoned, for a woman who has been told that no man is ever going to take care of her and she shouldn't ever even think herself remotely worthy of such a thing, this is a very powerful thing to be told.

He is serious. Very serious.

He is so serious, he started doing things to prove himself. He made a home for us, just waiting for me, but we don’t have the money for me to relocate. I’ve been crying for months--I shouldn't have to be homeless when I have a home!--but I can't reach him. I just have to get there. All that's standing between me and my love and the rest of my life is one plane ticket. Just one.

Hopefully, this is where you come in. My goal is modest. I am asking for $1800 to cover costs such as the plane ticket, baggage fees, cab fare, travel food, and the administrative fees associated with the crowdfund itself. At the moment, I am at the mercy of the kindness of family and friends, but I have somewhere I belong. All I have to do is reach it.

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