Friday, February 13, 2009

Portrait: Jacksonville, Florida

We have always lived paycheck to paycheck, for the most part. We managed, just barely to buy a house, right before the housing market dropped, so, of course we overpaid. (We live in Florida) But, still, we, okay, he was smart enough to buy something we could afford, even if it was pretty far away from where we ideally wanted to live. Something he could afford, since technically we live on his income. And for awhile it was enough. Barely enough, but enough, it got us through month to month. I was working part time for extra spending cash in a bookstore, and doing childcare out of the house, and things were okay. Not great, but we have food, and an internet, and it could be much, much worse.

And then gas prices doubled. Which, if you work an hour away, is a huge deal, doubling an already high expense. And I got sick, and couldn't work anymore, because who wants to hire someone who's puking (and etc) all the time? And who will let me watch their kids all drugged up on pain medication?

But, he was fortunate enough to get a raise, and then we were back to living just barely on the edge. It made up for what I had lost.

Gas prices went back down, but the price of everything else has gone up, and up. Every month, the credit card bills go up and up. Groceries go up and up and up. (I suppose I could stop eating, since most of it goes to waste anyway)

And he is so stressed, because his job isn't all that secure, and if it fails, we will lose it all. It's all on his shoulders. I just feel so guilty and helpless. I can't DO anything about it. Except be a burden with my medical problems and my kid and our damn pesky need to eat and be clothed. I'd begged for a car that would fit all the kids, back when I was babysitting, and now we are stuck with car payments on an SUV I don't really need anymore, but can't sell or trade without losing more money.

We are incredibly fortunate to be hanging on, but, this being on the edge thing is rather frightening. I wish I could do something. Everywhere I look, other people are falling themselves. And all I can do is watch. And hope, selfishly, that we make it through okay. I keep thinking that if everyone can just hang on, a little longer, something will give and everything will be ok for us all.