Lonna’s Lines, Strange News from around the World (Issue 4, “Car Crash in Houston and the Problem with Christians and Gold”)

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I’m still homeless in America.  A year ago I left China suddenly, flying away from a well-paid teaching job at Wenzhou-Kean University because the smoky air became unbreathable.  I used money I had saved in China to buy a 2014 Mazda 5 minivan with just 15,000 miles on it.  The glittery-silver vehicle was the first I had owned in the 5 years I had taught English overseas.  I admired its graceful lines, stylish red taillights, and the way the back 2 seats could fold down flat so that I could sleep there, on my foldable memory foam mattress.  A rear cup holder gave me great comfort.  I could sit up, drink tea, and admire the world from my little van home, safe from rain that wandered down its tinted glass windows.

My Armenian/Turkish husband Jack and I stayed in Southern California through the 2015 winter holidays, then left to start a new life in Houston, Texas.  We arrived after a long drive across deserts, on January 1,2016.  The sprawled city seemed strange, highways circling and intersecting it like a cut-edged puzzle.  Our first week there, we witnessed a car crash that bloodied the corner near our modest motel.  It took me a long time to find a teaching job, and then it was only part-time at a local college, hourly, with no benefits.  We tried to rent a nice apartment but lost our large deposit and ended up sleeping in our van at an old auto repair shop in downtown Houston.

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