Episode 1: Origins of Torch Woman
After hours of tossing and turning and trying to find some sort of calm and solitude, I finally succumbed to the fact I would once again find no rest tonight. The only source of comfort was the pounding melodies of the rainfall as it crashed and echoed on the steel roof. It would only be a few more hours until the sun rose from its nightly hiding spot and shined its golden hues of red and orange upon another day. Unsure of what the day before me held, I cringed and curled tighter into a ball, and longed for a reassuring embrace and words of encouragement. After a few more sleepless hours the dawn broke ushering away the rain clouds, bringing forth a new day filled with uncertainty, and I knew I must rise to the challenges which lay before me.
I took a deep breath, moved the clothes which doubled as curtains, away from the windows and stepped out of the backseat of my 1999 Ford Sable which had been my home for the past few weeks. I quickly did a double take at my appearance, combed my fingers through my hair, and entered the department store to use the restroom facilities. I learned very quickly the best time to slip in and out of the restroom unnoticed was at the break of dawn before customers began shopping for their groceries. The first thing I did, and do every morning I enter the department store bathroom, is stand under the automatic hand dryer to try and warm up. Turns out, rusted out – barely running cars do not have the best insulation in them and no matter how tightly you curl into a ball, you just cannot get warm during a cold Michigan evening.
I coveted the moments I was able to go unobserved, as I always felt people were glaring judgmental darts at me throughout the day, darts which pierced me to my very core. After a quick “bath” in the department store sink, I brushed my hair and teeth and unwrinkled my clothing the best I could. I stared in the mirror at the reflection and could not recognize anything about the person looking back at me. The person in the mirror was worn out, tired, unkempt, lacked confidence, and was always on the verge of tears. I took another deep breath as I remembered better days, days not long ago, when I had a job, a roof over my head, self-belief and was ready to take on the world. Today however, I was not even ready to take on a casual conversation. After mustering up enough courage, I left the department store bathroom, headed back to my car/house, did my best to transform into another participating member of society and to become a chameleon to my surroundings. I put on my brave face, forced a smile, and dug down deep for the strength to make it through another day of uncertainty and challenges.
Co-founder Sarah actually lived in the above car.The entire story of Torch Woman is based on the personal experiences co-founders Rhonda and Sarah faced when dealing with abuse and homelessness.