How does one start over mid-life with almost no money and no credit?
We’ve got family-of-origin nonsupport ranging from obvious discomfort, to blank stares and shrugging shoulders, to outright vile sabotage. One would have hoped this would hurt less in middle age, but unfortunately, it all still stings quite fiercely in the middle of the night when you wake up for a pee and a drink of water.
Thanks to hard, physical work, long hours, and a loan from one generous exception to the aforementioned family members, we have saved up enough money to have our first month’s rent and a deposit.
We’d say we’re pretty lucky. The only problem is, we don’t have a place to live.
In short, we can afford a place and aren’t asking for anything extraordinary, but have been laughed at, stared at, and harped on throughout our search for housing. Our experiences really make us wonder: how do immigrants or undocumented humans have any hope of navigating the LA housing market when we white native English speakers can’t make it happen?
One of us currently has no credit history, but a good income. One of us has good credit, but their income varies.
When you have lived your life as a stay-at-home housewife and mom to four little ones under the age of nine, with no paying job and fully dependent on your husband to make all financial decisions, it simply means you’ve never been able to build your own credit. It means that you’ve never worried about establishing credit, because no one told you it might be important for you to do so. This is the case for one of us, the one who ran their own successful small business for years, before the kids, and long enough ago for it not to have mattered on the most current credit pull.
The case for the other has been spending years trying to prove your worth through tax returns and bank receipts. It gets old, but you don’t stop trying.
It is frustrating to be the owner of a middle-aged body, unable to go as fast as you used to, learning to work with the new normal of aches and pains and naps that attack you when you least expect it. This frustration itself is only magnified by the indignities of this process of starting over after having lived at least one or two full lives already, in which you had the luxury to make decisions based on nothing except what you felt like doing on a Saturday morning.
We live off-and-on in the guest room of one of our generous adult children who lives conveniently near the out-of-the-house job by LAX. We packed only enough clothes to fill a single suitcase, only the most important books and pillows, so as not to bring too much of ourselves into their home.
What you’d like most right now is to be in your own space, breathing easy.
When you’re in your child’s home, you are loathe to take up too much space. You are their parent and the thought of you starting over with nothing worries them. You know they wonder what exactly their responsibility is to you in all of this, so you try and minimize your thumbprint in their home by breathing shallow and cleaning up a little extra as a bonus to having you around. You weigh all conversation topics beforehand, assessing each one based on whether it might be upsetting to them or not, and have learned the art of treading lightly while still making a point to say the things you feel are important for you to say. You are model guests, keeping tones low and intimacy to a bare minimum.
Yet, still, you know you are an inconvenience, so you keep your eye on the calendar, hoping to move out before you are officially asked. What, after all, could hurt more as a child than to have to ask your parent to leave your home? What could hurt more as a parent than to know your child had to tell you your time with them was up?