A state of flux


My family went through the shelter system when I was too young to remember. Over time I witnessed their struggles with money, addiction, love, affection, mental illness, abuse, rough neighborhoods, etc. I didn’t want that for myself when I left, seeking my own sanctuary.

I see homeless people on the street and I wonder what went wrong. I don’t presume them to be lazy. Most people in this city are living paycheck to paycheck, even with a decent job. It could be any of us. I think about this often.

It bothers me when people try to exploit someone’s kindness. I’ve seen some people con others out of money, even food. They’ll make up sob stories and laugh about it later. A bus driver put a young guy in his place when he claimed he didn’t have fare to ride, but expected to get on the bus anyway. He had on new fresh sneakers, an iPhone. “You need to get your priorities straight”.

Some people get verbally aggressive when you have nothing to give. It makes it harder for the ones that really do need help. I was stopped on the street walking home, when someone asked my boyfriend and me for cash. The man eventually admitted it was for heroin. I thought about my family. It bothered me deeply.

I don’t know everyone’s story. I’m trying to survive too.

People fall into this bracket of making too much, but not enough. Just making one dollar over the eligible amount means you lose out on assistance, housing, and benefits. Wages don’t go up and the rent soars. You land a great job but there are some jerks at the top that will remind you “You are expendable”.

Some days I want to jump on top of my desk at work, fling paperwork in the air, throw things around and tell everyone “Do the damn thing yourself”. Sprint off, scarlet hair flying behind me.

Instead I focus on being a real human being, which people forget sitting behind a computer desk. Thanking people on every single email or in person by name. I’ll chat with them about their lives, or hear them speak, because I spend enough time listening to myself in my head.

I am a hard worker, my job looks good on paper, but it doesn’t feed my soul.

I am responsible for that.

I want to write, my fingers tingle with ideas constantly, but the opportunities are snatched away. The train is too crowded. My job demands come first.

At home I could find a million things to do, but I make the time to connect with my love, my support. I won’t take him for granted.

At night my thoughts run rampant, wandering through perilous roads. I shut them down by getting lost in a book, resisting sleep as long as I can.

I pay for my modest apartment and I’ve started to ignore it when things break, because the landlord doesn’t care enough, so I try not to. I tell myself this is temporary and it could be so much worse. I have a home, a bed, food to eat, running water and heat. It’s mine. Everything else is just stuff.

I keep hearing they are trying to re-name our streets, as though this will erase its history. The locals fight it.

Hostility levels are escalating. There’s increased drug use. And people are trampling through each other.

A hotel is being built nearby where I live. I am worried. This is the last area that hasn’t been completely changed. That’s still reasonably affordable. But it’s happening.

I don’t want to continue jumping onto the next higher salary to keep up.

I want to get out while I have the means to do it.

Find an escape route from this place. And the job, the commute, the people. Same as I did when I didn’t think twice and left my family’s household, but on a grander scale.

Circumstances can be changed with enough willpower.

People ask if I know anyone where I am going next year. And I tell them “No, that’s the point”.

Everything is about what kind of job you have, how much money you’re making, what you’re spending your money on.

I won’t assume this is limited to city life, it’s embedded in our culture. But I’ll roll the dice and take a chance for greener pastures.

I like to observe people and imagine their life stories. I want to share beautiful things that are meaningful. I want to talk about the interesting facts I read. The little details I pay attention to. I find myself at a loss for words, trying to capture the essence of these ideas, opinions, and feelings traveling through. My curiosity is insatiable. Surely life is much greater than this. If only I could express myself openly. I’ve learned to internalize and it hinders my creativity.

Everyone is busy or on auto-pilot, filtering their friends, their photos, their experiences.

They are planting a garden of flourishing weeds. I want to plant a tree.

We just exist here.

I want to live.

I am becoming less of me.

I can’t let that happen.