I'm grateful that I have all I need and am continually provided for. AND, holy crap it's a little scary living so close to the edge, day by day wondering if someone will respond to your couch request or follow through on their offer for you to stay with them. . . feeling hungry for hours while you apply for jobs but having to wait until you're back at the house where you're staying because you can't afford to buy any food. I need to start carrying more snacks. Bananas. Yes, bananas are cheap.
I'm learning compassion for a whole new segment of the world's population. So many people live with this daily wondering of where they will sleep and what they will eat and if anyone will hire them. I have never been in this situation before.
Last night as I was walking down Pacific Avenue dropping off resumes again, a young girl with pink hair asked, "Hey spare any change?"
I laughed in spite of myself and said, "I could ask you the same thing, honey. Good luck to both of us." She smiled in a snarly way that said I'm-not-in-the-mood-for-your-comeraderie-give-me-money-bitch.
I walked away sort of shaken by the brief exchange. Am I close to that? Am I one step away from being the hey-got-any-change girl? I was the head of a middle school for pete's sake. I am almost finished with my master's degree. I'm a singer and a writer and I make great pasta.
But none of that matters to the 25 restaurants who now have a copy of my resume sitting on some pile on someone's desk somewhere. This is a truly humbling experience. There's a small part of me that is enjoying it. It's like a new adventure - the "being poor" adventure.
Because really, I know that I am not one step away from being that pink-haired girl. I know I will probably never be that pink-haired girl. There are too many people all over the country who have made it clear that I may show up on their doorstep at any time and stay for as long as I need to. I can't emphasize enough how much those offers carry me through days like this. Even if I never take you up on them, knowing they are there is like having a steady supply of xanex in my purse. (It's comforting - for those of you who didn't get the analogy.)
And also, I have not forgotten that this life was my choice. I am not a victim here. I left my job of my own accord and dove headfirst into a life of financial instability.
Yet here in the direst of my days, I would still choose this over the 70 hour work weeks I had back east. I would have every reason right at this moment to idealize my old job; to get nostalgic and pine for that steady paycheck. But while I do miss my old school community, I am not so far removed from that life that I have forgotten the cost of financial security - the cost to my time, my health, my sanity, and my true passions.
Give me my freedom. Give me mornings without an alarm, and days free of other people’s demands on me. Give me the ability to pick up and go wherever, whenever I want. Give me time to write, time to read, time to cook, and time to laugh with friends. I’ll take financial insecurity for this any day.
|An exhausted self-portrait taken the final week of school in June|
|An elated self portrait taken during a portion of my trip in October|
|Twilight on the Santa Cruz beach|
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