MYRTLE BEACH—Keith Jacobs, a photographer for The Miscellany, was taking photos recently of an abandoned tent city where the homeless had been living in Myrtle Beach. He found a crumpled, dirty notebook that had been left behind, filled with the entries of a homeless woman.
Some of her words are smeared by rainwater, nothing left but a watercolor of ink. Some entries are disjointed, snippets of thought. Others are clear and articulate.
Together, they paint a picture of loneliness and a longing for a better life.
Here are some of her words:
She describes herself as being a white, 33-year-old. Starting in early September 2011, she writes about life in Wytheville, being lonely and victimized, where nobody did anything to help her feel “unoverwhelmed and abandoned.”
“As a matter of fact, nobody would miss me if I was to drop over dead. I am just everyone’s big excuse to move on … Jesus loves me even if [I’m] not so nice.”
Hitting the road, she writes:
“All I can do now until my home is here is to pray to God I don’t have the following disasters happen: hit on interstate like a stray animal, hurt by an individual, cut, raped, etc.”
“Got here at New London, Ct, Sept. 24, 2011. That’s if I am remembering exact date. I know it was September. … I was traveling north toward Maryland to work and my boss lady changed plans … I was at the casino where she dropped me off and told me she would pick me up again. She didn’t show. … She decided she no longer needed to have me as her employee. So much for having a person keep [their] there true word.”
From here, she finds her way to a shelter for battered women and receives a bus ticket to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Entire pages are taken up with survival numbers. Poison control is in big, bold letters. Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, shelters and libraries — all neatly listed.
There’s a to-do list of how to remain healthy, and what to keep in her backpack at all times.
Just before leaving Connecticut, she writes about turning her life around, and sends her GED information and a FIFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to Remington College in Columbia.
“If this college receives all of my financial aid information on time then I will be one of their fall semester students 2011.”
“[This is] my plan to start my new successful approach at new life and living arrangements.”
“I am trying to save as much money as I can staying in this shelter.”
But she can’t find a job. She writes about applying at hotels and condominiums, where she was told they didn’t need any housekeeping. She resorted to strip clubs, and recalls her early years of promiscuity, and how it was the wrong path, never leading to true love.
She often mentions her daughter, who isn’t with her, and how her child is all she has in life — a life of pre-paid cell phones, and sending her daughter money orders when she can.
Being clean is a luxury. She notes simple things she misses, like moisturizer, and taking pleasure in small things, like painting her nails.
“Thinking of how much my toenails look pretty reminded me of red/green Bubbalicious bubble gum. I painted them red, then narrow lines of green. Remember this color gum long, long time ago, like 13 years.”
It’s a life of yearning — for a home, for companionship, for decent treatment.
“The hospital was very mean about how long I felt I had to be patiently waiting for pain relief of my abscessed tooth. The nurse told me the hospital was busy. I was not so sure. How long of a wait? I was not even able to talk much just so the nurse could understand why I was at the hospital.”
One of the last entries:
“Celebrate recovery!” with a number for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Here’s hoping she made it.