being poor was wandering the streets of Olympia looking for nickles until I had found 55 cents & could go get a coffee w/2 refills at dancing goat cafe, and pretend I was not all alone because there were people around me, and happiness was more important then even food.
being poor was being homeless & unemployed & pregnant in winter in Minnesota (the month of your pre-planned wedding ceremony), & moving into a hotel on your last funds, until your second cousin let you live in her basement until you found a place & a new job & parents lent you a deposit for an apartment because your credit is so bad you can't get a place, even when you do get work
being poor was having your credit ruined by listening to your husband when he said to not pay the fee on 3 bounced checks, then having 2 bank accounts closed on you - which in MN means no bank account for a year & having the same husband gamble away your credit & cash trying to make enough, but just loosing it all - until he finally quit gambling at the casinos & banned himself.
being poor was eating ramen because if I didn't eat ramen, I wouldn't eat anything
being poor was running out of ramen & just being hungry
being poor was eating popcorn at my movie theatre job to fill up, since the pay didn't cover rent plus good food
being poor was hand washing clothes & hanging them out to dry on a cord in the yard, even in freezing weather (then finally getting a washer but still having to hang dry all the clothes)
being poor was not paying any utility bills, living in your mother-in-law's basement, and having an empty fridge, and an empty pantry & not knowing when the next job would be: just going until something came in, then trying to catch up
being poor was having the state pay your utilities & healthcare, and not having anything else
being poor was not getting teeth fixed for lack of $100; until it finally fell apart & needed a root canal (on the state's dime)
being poor was reusing the same coffee grinds, again, and again, and again and again
being poor was drinking that coffee to get rid of the hunger feelings
being poor was dumpster diving for furniture
being poor was never having lint in the dryer catch when washing clothes : nothing left to shed on those worn down pieces
being poor was washing clothes in just plain water
being poor was buying food on a credit card & not knowing if/when you could pay it back
being poor was having your small credit card cancelled due to lack of payment
being poor was full of fretting & worry & planning & hoping.
I'm glad I'm not poor anymore; I feel badly that anyone is.
And I know that while I've been financially poor: I've had people to help me,
people who let me sleep in their basement, who loaned me money when they might not get it back
who gave me clothing, furniture
who encouraged me.
I've had friends who literally lived on the street; with nothing, so cold and dillusional sometimes they soiled themselves & didn't realize it; people who walked hours or days to try to get somewhere better, who hitchhiked, who were driven to desperation, who got aid from total strangers, who were too out of the system to even get government help, who didn't have the clothing or means to wash to get any work, I know I haven't really had it that bad; hunger, fear, panic, no home, it can be worse, I could've been without my family there - I had that.
And luckily, I was mostly poor before I had kids - the time we ended up living in my mother-in-law's basement I had left a good job & a rented house in Oregon to move back to Minnesota to no job, and job hunting, for months, while living in her basement because there was a drive to be in Minnesota: that was a chosen poverty, the days of hunger, dumpster diving, not eating: that was all pre-kids - after I found myself kicked out of home by a roommate when I was 4 months pregnant & had just quit my job because I had a few months rent (there) saved up and had to blow it all on the hotel & storage locker: that was a wake up call for me. Moving back to MN to instability after having stability in Oregon, that was probably just foolish.