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A Tale of Landlord and Tenant: Shelter Life, Pt. 2

Updated on July 3, 2017

Acceptance doesn't happen overnight. Survival is a winding road cluttered with pot holes.

Before diving in, read Pt. 1 here.

If you’d like to help support us by purchasing and reading Chapter One, titled, A Story of Landlord and Tenant: Exploitation, Eviction, and Homelessness, you can buy it here for $2 in either English, French, or Russian. We will profit a little under $1 for each sale. The money we raise will go directly towards helping us transfer out of the homeless shelter into an apartment.

Anger really is more useful than terror.
You see, I can do something with anger. I can write with anger.
But, it wasn't always that way.

We pulled the prison-sized mattresses down onto the floor and pushed them together. The only way we'd make it through the night is by creating the illusion of sleeping in the same bed.

I think it was the quiet that got us. It was so fucking quiet. It was quiet despite the windows shattering, the yelling, and the guards intercepting messages between each other. Suddenly we were forced to face what was in front of us, without the common distractions of everyday privileged life - binged TV show, books, and video games. Suddenly it was just me and you, in a room that reeked of unraveled cigarettes, with nothing but forced words and long sighs to exchange.

I've seen this all before, just in a different way. I've seen rusted tin roofs. I've seen drugs, bugs, and babies baking in overgrown yards and swimming in sewage canals. Yet, somehow, somewhere along the way, your eyes get bleached out and all the distractions of modern life bathe you in thick gloss. You eventually plug-in and forget. It isn't long before you start aching for it. The reality of life is painful, isn't it?

We sat in a dark room, side by side, with our tiny bright lights. Scrolling through our Facebook feeds, with earphones in, we open Spotify and max out the volume. Before I tap into the numbness, I glance over and see loyalty sitting cross-legged, smiling back at me. I gather my bravery.

The next morning I hop out of my cold shower and take a hard look at myself in the mirror. First: How did I get here? Second: When did I stop caring for myself? I start recollecting the last 12 months of my life, and for once, I am not distracted. I slowly begin filling in the holes of past events. And, nowhere, am I able to come up with another solution. I cannot picture another reality - another possible now. I've covered all grounds. We've exhausted all options. We face fate right in the fucking face. Is it laughing at us? Is it grinning? Does it care at all? Does it matter either way?

What's interesting is probably how much we don't really recognize our suffering. We stop glancing at our own reflection and we miss it. It's true - and after a while, to stop suffering is to suffer. That's because change is suffering. It's all pain. How we manage any will to live is beyond me. I noticed this at our physical and mental evaluation - it is one of the most immediate requirements to shelter entry. I haven't been to a doctor in years. I haven't told anyone about how my body is dying, or that I'm dying, in years. We start dying the moment we begin neglecting ourselves. We start neglecting ourselves the moment suffering consumes our life. It was then, in that moment, that I realized what my first priority must be: to begin the process of saving my life.


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