dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I wondered if he noticed my brief hesitation as I considered how much I wanted to share in response to what he's just asked. It was an innocent enough question, one about whether I was always a local. How many times had I elaborated variations on this story of late?

"I just moved here after 43 years in Pittsburgh," I replied. "I have an apartment starting the day after tomorrow." I could have stopped there, left it at that. Instead, though, I caught my breath before continuing.

It had been the night before New Years' Eve when my friend showed up. I slumped in his arms as I sobbed briefly, before composing myself. I collected a small pile of clothes and my laptop, and we left to cross the city. For much of the next several months, the spare bedroom at his home would serve as mine.

His family seemed in no rush to have me gone, but I try to take nothing for granted. My barren fiscal standing left me unable to get a place myself, though, and so I hoped I wouldn't be too much of a burden.

"It will be the first time this year I've had my own place to live," I said as I ended the thought. If he was bothered by my explanation, he betrayed nothing. There wasn't really anything different about me anyway: my neat appearance betrayed nothing about my status. Blue hair aside, I looked not much different than anyone else present.

You might well have thought you didn't know anyone who's homeless. Two days, yet, still separate me from a place which is mine, from no longer being transient. In the meantime, I have spent all of this year in places where I had no claim beyond friendship. I leaned harder than I felt any right to. It is an experience which lends additional empathy, but it is not one I'd dare suggest everyone should have.

No, just the opposite: homelessness is an experience *no one* should have.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
Her email arrived mid-morning, and I didn't read it til rather later as I was busy working. Perhaps it was for the best that I'd waited.

"Good morning, Daria Brashear", I'd greeted her at a minute after 8. We'd arranged the call the previous day. She seemed impressed that I'd trivially navigated bureaucracy to tweak an issue with my health insurance, and frankly, so was I. Not that long ago, I avoided making phone calls. Here, in spite of my dislike of my voice, I stepped right up and dealt.

It was the second time we'd talked, and I had already shared the details, good and bad, of my life. My recounting of 2016, particularly, drew sympathy. "But, I live here now," I'd concluded. This time, remembering something from before, she asked about voice therapy. "Yes, absolutely," I replied, and she said she'd send along the information I needed.

The email unfolded in front of me, and I mentally parsed out the details. As I reached the middle, though, I paused, and held back tears.

At the end of the paragraph, after comments about how to get set up with a voice therapist, she told me to get a referral, obtain a letter suggesting follow ups, and submit it. "It will be approved," she explained as she mentioned mandated benefits. The final sentence, though, was the one that made it all so very real for me:

"It is good to live in Massachusetts!!"
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
A couple hundred meters from the turnpike, I rested. After ordering a small lunch, I committed the very political act my #IllGoWithYou button prominently advertised, and settled in to catch up on work as I ate.

The morning began with an early alarm. I threw on the dress I'd been wearing the night before and grabbed my camera. Twilight was rising fast, After several flights of stairs, I emerged to be greeted by the vast urban amphitheater encircling me below.

There were a few photos off the northern edge of the building, capturing the hill I'd climbed the previous day as well as the hospital I'd come home from just over 43 years prior. Then, though, I moved to the eastern edge and waited.

5:49 came and went. Shortly, though, the sun peaked slowly over the ridge that made the lip of the bowl around me. Just as the sun appeared to, I knew it was a climb I had made.

The shutter clicked several times, as the bright ball hazed pink on the horizon moved visibly upward. Then, it was done.

I put the camera away, returning to my laptop for some work before a brief nap, some cuddles, and then my escape. The emotional burden was as yet there for me to face, but this wouldn't be the day -- even over a few hundred kilometers alone. Perhaps, indeed, especially not then.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
As I sat waiting for the light to change, I looked down the valley I'd soon be descending. One skyscraper, probably just over a mile from where I was, stood framed by the chasm. I proceeded to turn the corner and quickly plummet down the hill, looking across the ravine to the end of the street where friends lived, and considered the discussion I'd had the night before.

We sat at adjacent bar stools as we chatted, waiting for his wife to join us. The topic at hand was the value of a fresh start in a new place should you wish to rebuild your life. In his case, a desire for something different had led him and his spouse, sight unseen, to a house about as far from where we sat as mine was, but in the other direction. New house, new city, new start. But there's always the challenge of finding people with like interests, and I was familiar. Not long before they arrived, I'd had my own watershed moment.

The answer, for both of us, had similar factors. I admitted as we sat there that I had come perilously close to leaving Pittsburgh not long before he'd arrived, to the point of having drawn up a list of personal requirements that upon evaluation very nearly resulted in my departure for Columbus. That, of course, is a topic unto itself.

But I stuck around, and things got better for me around the same time he started finding his life locally. We'd used social media as a stepping stone to finding folks with similar interests. Unlike him, it was for me in the place I already did and always had called home. In fact, I felt fairly certain it was how the two of us had met.

Hours later, as I took a break from repeatedly compiling the same software while looking for a bug, a glance at social media reminded me of the rest of that value: in addition to the obvious personal value I'd derived, the accessibility of viewpoints I would not have otherwise had as well as to viewpoints I wouldn't have even known existed clearly offered me a chance to be a better, more empathetic human. I'm not there (is anybody?), but at least now I had the opportunity to try.

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