I will turn 25 in one month from yesterday. But I don't think I'm going to die. I'm fairly certain of this, because I thought I was going to die last year. A year early, evidently. And since I've been blessed with more time than I've ever had (more on that in a minute) let's reflect on that.
A year ago, I spent my entire weekend reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a masterpiece with which I heavily resonated.
A year ago, I drove up to Michigan for a photo shoot, dissociated, and crashed my car with my sister inside.
A year ago, I kind of sort of went to grad school but I couldn't really be there. I hid in the Planetarium and I hid in Amanda's office and I hid behind the defense mechanisms I had perfected after a decade of use. Eventually, though, I couldn't hide the fact that I couldn't see straight. The neurological television noise blocking my vision made it impossible to walk down a hallway without feeling like I was disappearing into a black hole.
I'm no psychologist, but I think that's called a nervous breakdown.
I was sent away to Peru and I happily spent my 24th birthday there, not really believing that I was going to go back to Clemson. I didn't. I think y'all are pretty familiar with the rest of the story.
But the point is, I thought I was going to die. I was pretty much already dead. And when you're half dead, it's easy enough to go the rest of the way but seemingly impossible to claw your way back out...and that just...sucks. There's no eloquent way to put it. It sucks and it's just the worst and then I start thinking about how much gravity it would take to bend my little piece of spacetime back onto itself, and what if it's all my fault and what if I fucked up and what did I possibly do to twist my life this badly, and what if I've already peaked?
But then, I flooded my life with friends and family and jobs, and I started to feel better so I sealed the deal by driving all the way to the west coast.
I still struggle, sometimes. I have bad anxiety days and the neurological noise comes back, and I don't feed myself and I cry because I'm afraid of how destructive I can be, and guilt is cheap and easy and logical. Sometimes I let myself be a thing instead of a person, because that makes more sense. Sometimes I let myself be the butt of the joke so that I can laugh with my perpetrators. Sometimes I fill my lungs with cinnamon and my ears with bullets from electronic assault weapons, and I keep breathing.
And in one month from yesterday, I will have kept breathing long enough to turn 25. I'll have reached my quarter century, and I'll have been more free than I've been in a long time.
I'm not sure if I'm losing my mind or severely pink-clouding or slowly starving to death, but being homeless is one of the coolest things I've ever done.
I get up at sunrise, and my time is completely my own. I'm learning to be resourceful and to rock climb. I'm learning to be by myself and to be an observer. I can read all of my books that I bought with the best of intentions, but never cracked open or finished because they weren't part of an assigned curriculum. The weather in Davis is perfection, and the Farmer's Market is magical. I know where I can sleep and where I can't. I know where to find water in this drought. I have a favorite tree with just enough shade for me. I have a front row seat to the sunset every night. I have 31 cents in my bank account and I'll probably go into the red next week, but I found a job and this wouldn't be the first time. I met somebody an hour ago and we'll go get a beer together later tonight. I am protected by the energy and prayers of my loves, energy on which I am dependent, but indirectly.
It feels better to be indirectly dependent rather than directly dependent. On one hand, I have absolutely none of my life together. The fact that I can be up in Davis at all and that I'm fed is due entirely to my Kar-bear, my long time friend and fierce advocate, recipient of a considerable amount of my love and steward of a piece of my heart, amazing human and beautiful warrior (because I really don't associate with anyone less, duh.) But now, by trial and error, I can manage my few resources in space that belongs to me and everybody at the same time. I'm not underneath someone else's roof, although I've been so thankful to be. Even as a gift, accepting someone else's shelter gives me anxiety because it's a gift that's difficult to accept when there's absolutely no chance of giving back or breaking even anytime soon. Out here, though, I can breathe. I spend most of my time outside, and I feel like I run this damn town. That's obviously a delusion, but it's wonderful to feel so powerful.
Every muscle in my body is sore, but it's a growing pain. I'm nose diving in so many ways, but I feel so much better. Things will be alright. Things are looking up. I'm alright to be on the street for a while, and I'll probably keep doing it until it starts to suck or it stops making sense or something horrible happens.
Until then, I feel like I'm finally allowed to be the gypsy that I am. And that's a necessary freedom, for a wandering gal like me.