Hello out there!
*echo* Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!
It’s been pretty empty around here lately. I’m still alive, I promise. Well, sort of.
My life has been so overwhelming the last few months that even thinking about writing down any part of it is overwhelming as well. So, while part of me says, “go on, write something,” the other part of me says, “let’s hide under the covers for just a few more days.” The latter normally wins this debate. Today, however, I peak my head out from the covers, or bed sheet rather because it’s way too freaking hot in Missouri to use a proper blanket right now, to say a little hello, and attempt to make sense of the fragments of thought in my brain.
My life’s timeline in the last three months has gone like this-
- Quit my job
- Had a hysterectomy
- Hospitalized for a week
- Returned home to pretend I didn’t have a hysterectomy
- Packed up my things
- Moved to Missouri
- Had several nervous breakdowns
- Ate some cereal
I’ve been having trouble keeping up. I’m anxious, tired, depressed, and still recovering from surgery, which is awfully hard to do when you’re also trying to set up an entirely new life. However, while I don’t think I’m handling it perfectly, I am handing it well.
Saint Louis is a very interesting place, much different from my hometown. I was raised in a place in Northern California called San Jose, which can easy be described as the conceited younger brother of San Francisco. I love my hometown, don’t get me wrong. The nature that surrounds the city makes those that live there extremely fortunate; go one way, you reach the forests, mountains and canyons. Go the other way, you reach the sparkling ocean. The beauty of San Jose itself, however, is far from natural. The polished buildings and enormous malls are shiny, sure, but empty. There are a few missions, The Winchester Mystery House, and lovely victorian homes downtown that hold our history, but that history is drowned out quickly by the city’s desire to always be up to date on the latest and greatest details of human life.
Growing up in the place like that, even growing up very poor in a place like that, my family instilled the thought in my head that if something looked worn down, old, or had the slightest imperfection, it was filthy and dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. I try very hard to not be a shallow person, but growing up with a shallow family in a city that is just bad makes being any different quite hard. I still fight my parent’s prejudice voices in my head every second of my life, and while I’m proud to say I win, say 90% of the time, they still haunt me, and antagonize my anxiety.
The first moment I arrived at my new home last Friday, I immediately regretted my move and wanted to go home, and my heart sank when I remembered that the place I left was never really a home at all. I felt hopeless. The small apartment complex with red bricks and old wooden stairs was ominous, like a monster waiting to devour me. I looked up at it, and told my boyfriend, “I don’t think I like it here.” He told me to give it a chance, and since I had no other choice, I promised I would.
We walked inside, where all of our boxes and moving supplies had taken over. All I could think of was how much work it would be to unpack them all. I looked around the apartment. It all seemed so small, and so old. I looked out the window of our new kitchen, and all that greeted me were more old, brick buildings as far as the eye could see, with unkept lawns and our gravel alley. My heart sank even more, practically into my shoes. I entrusted my boyfriend with my life- to find us a place to start our lives, that should be safe and affordable, and this is the place he picked? After nearly twenty landlords I had called, this is what he thought would be best? I almost felt betrayed. My emotions, my anxiety, every part of me was whirling around, screaming, fighting for some reason that they didn’t comprehend. I fell onto the bed, and I cried for hours. Hopeless, tired, in a foreign place away from my friends who had taken care of me for so long, I had never felt so alone.
I do believe depression and anxiety both create veils that can blind their sufferer badly. Every person sees the world differently to begin with. But when you have these little monsters in your head, the world isn’t just different. It’s terrifying, foreboding, and becomes an even bigger monster itself. Between dealing with those two on a constant basis and my family instilling constant fear into my head, new things in my life are things that I want very badly to experience, but do not believe I can survive. So it’s really no wonder that my first reaction to my new state was so terrible. Not to mention Saint Louis doesn’t exactly have the best reputation to begin with. Being deemed both one of the most dangerous and most racist cities in America, it doesn’t exactly sound promising. I was already apprehensive to move here because of that reputation, and despite visiting several times, it still felt like traveling to a different planet. But alas, I had nowhere else to live.
As the week has quickly sped by, my worries and fears have been far from calmed. However, I look out at the street and see these old buildings instead of shiny new townhouses, and I realize that these buildings are not decrepit. They are a part of this city’s history. There are happy children running and playing outside, under the blue, cloud spotted sky. And as the boxes in my own apartment lessen, I see that my kitchen is beautiful. Simple, but big enough to have dinner parties, which is something I’ve always wanted to do in my own home. My living room is a welcoming open space, with a huge sectional couch given to us for free by a family friend, which we can fit all our friends on for movie nights. The prints my boyfriend made of The Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, and our other favorites hang on the walls, proudly displaying our love of comics and movies.
My bedroom contains a stunning old fireplace and mantle, the dark cherry wood chipped, but polished to fuse history with present. A photograph of the milky way that one of my best friends took in California hangs in the middle of one bedroom wall, to remind me of him, and to remind me of my old home state. And best of all, in the middle of our little bedroom sits our bed, looking out on the rest of our shotgun style apartment. The bed where every night I fall asleep in the arms of another of my best friends, my boyfriend, and the bed where I wake up to his kiss each morning and he holds me before he has to get ready for work. The very same bed that I cried on upon my arrival to Saint Louis, catching my hopeless tears, is now the bed where my boyfriend and I lay and speak of all the things we will do, all the people we will welcome into the place, and all the work left to create the home that we want.
And best of all, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to fear the people I live with. I don’t have to abide by insane rules made to control me, be bullied by my own family members, or have to wonder if I will have to run away tonight when someone loses their temper and puts me in danger. This city is still strange to me, but I look forward to getting to know it, for all it’s good and bad. My apartment is still new, but every day becomes a little more familiar. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t sparkling or the latest and greatest. But it feels pretty great to me.
For the very first time, after 25 years on this earth, I am finally, finally home.
We work and slave the day away.
We’re raised in perfect families.
We fuck and fight like vagabonds.
We dance like fucking animals.
Don’t stop, the band is coming on.
Rude boys and punks will shout along.
Police cars bring cuffs and loaded guns.
Kids scream, but laughing as they run.
I hope, do you wanna let go?
‘Cause this is home.