With my rhinestone jewelry adorning my long black and white gown, I strode into the home of our host, Tom, already filling up with our usual crowd of party lovers. With drinks in hand, giving air kisses to upturned cheeks, we toasted one another with a wide variety of drinks, attempting to speak French on this July 14 La Fete National on Bastille Day Celebration. Perhaps like the others, I had spent most the day getting nails done, acquiring an elaborate hair style, deciding what to wear and take as a gift for our handsome host, who handed me a chocolate martini while giving me a kiss on the cheek. Ohh la la! A greeting frequently heard as more guests arrived.
Finally Janelle sauntered in with William, another party regular, who picked her up at Minnetonka where she is presently living, caring for a man dying of cancer. Looking as beautiful as ever, she expressed her agony to one and all that her beloved Serena had lost at Wimbledon — in two fast sets! How disastrous that this woman she so idolized should lose yet another championship tournament, in two quick sets, at that.
Now this may seem a bit like an extreme reaction to some, but to Janelle, a DACA, who has no place of her own, no means of earning a living that would require a Social Security number, and no means of safely securing any funds she earns, she is pretty much forced into a migratory lifestyle. I didn’t realize just how all encompassing and lonely a lifestyle she was forced to live, thus making Serena’s life of vital importance. For here was a black woman who defied all odds to win the most tennis championships of any player thus far. When I first met Janelle two years ago, she was staying with one or more of Tom’s friends while here from N.Y. She mentioned then she was a model and certainly looked and dressed the part. She was in the carload of party goers who dropped me off at my home and asked to see my house when Tom walked the two of us to the door. Hearing I was a writer, she came in and wondered if she could have a copy of my book, kinda hinting my home looked like a nice place to stay. Waving good-bye with my book in her hand, she left with Tom and friends while I thought to myself, no more ‘the man who came to dinner’ scenes for me. I valued too much living alone, a relatively new experience for me.
But two years later, squeezing my hand for dear life as we sat in the lobby of a theatre presenting an opera with our usual party friends, she told me of how desperate she felt in her present setting and how badly she needed to have her story written and published — that her life as a DACA needed to be told. I, for lack of a better phrase, ‘felt her pain’ – that resulted with her moving in with me. My home was a perfect setting as I had a bedroom suite and private bath on a separate floor and with her iPhone and Apple computer, she had easy access to the outside world . And so I began interviewing her for a series of blogs appearing on my web-site while she sought some kind of employment with help from some of Tom’s friends, particularly William, who had access to the theatre world. I learned she had worked as a photographer, model, set builder, makeup artist and photo editor and had organized shootouts indoors and outdoors. But summertime in the Twin Cities with few jobs available, needing a source of money, left her moving into a home in Minnetonka on the outskirts of St. Paul to take care of an elderly man very ill with cancer. William could provide her with transportation there occasionally when he had work there. And so before I knew it, she was GONE, taking all her worldly goods with her.
Renee’ and I were baffled! The three of us had become such good friends on the days Renee’ worked with me on Organizing my home and Simplifying my life. Janelle’s now been gone more than a month and knows not where she will be or go when her client dies. When that happens she will be doing what she has done every since she left the home of the Jewish woman in NY with whom she lived for four years. Every since then, when a job opens, no matter how far away, ALL your stuff goes with you since you may not be back and you cannot afford to keep a place elsewhere, not even a locked storage. Everything she owns fits into two huge suitcases and a few shoulder bags.
It then occurred to me that all she owns is her own body. Nothing more! How can she plan her future. Could you? Stay tuned……