Here’s a picture of a statue which was put up in our neighborhood to convince young thugs not to resort to violence. What can be better than massive brass knuckles to teach them that? Its really on point tho – I think it sums up what its like to live here pretty nicely. Anyway, bear with me here…
I’ve been living in affordable/social housing the last 8 years, and I cant describe how tired I am of it. I desperately want to have my own property, to get away from the margins of society that I have to share my daily life with. For me the last 8 years have been one long groundhog day – chaos and repetition of the same situation over and over again: moving from one ghetto to another, being a student/ artist, being broke. How can I put words on having to deal with the same frustrations that never end: noisy, harassing, intrusive neighbors, people that have constant parties, infestations of insects, unsafety of the area, lack of sleep and just this depression from not being able to escape it, EVER. (Just recently there was a shooting here, and then some guy got murdered and dismembered in one of the appartements. Charming, eh.) And it just feels so so much worse for someone like me, who has a PTSD and anxiety from the time when I was in a nightmarish situation with abusive ex-inlaws and was very close to being homeless. All the crap that goes on here triggers some unbearable emotions and memories. Sometimes I feel like Im on a verge of some kind of epic meltdown, like USSR before its collapse. But I duno how I always manage to contain myself.
Okay, its not all doom and gloom. I have had some good times here too and generally, people here live normal mundane lives. There are some happy kids in between, some beautiful sunsets and functioning washing machines. But Im not cut out for a life of such proximity. Here I feel like a nobody. We all stacked on top of each other, wall to wall, bedroom to bedroom, living in little prison sells, minding each others businesses. Like, oh, there’s Joe, the upstairs neighbor, taking a piss while Im eating my dinner. And there are the teenagers downstairs making a row and smoking the whole house up at 3 in the morning, just when I feel like I wanna get some fresh air and some shuteye. I know every single little habit of every person, what car they drive and who they fuck. Its almost like, my life is just an extension of theirs. Im living it tiptoeing and shuddering at the sight of every newcomer.
And I really miss privacy, I long for silence, I crave having a say in my environment. To feel so powerless, so out of control and having no ability to make any real impact is so beyond humiliating. The insecurity and instability have been taking a toll on my health and my mental state for a while now… Frankly, Im always surprised that I haven’t gotten used to it yet. When I was a kid, I lived in the nicest neighborhoods, and then to go from the riches to rags – oh the irony of life! No, u never get used to it.
Of course, as long as there is social mobility, then there is a chance and hope to rise above this. But being an immigrant, who had always hung out in international circles, means that I dont have any connections. Or powerful relatives, or anyone else that could propel me upwards on the social ladder. I have to build my entire social network and foundation of life myself – and tried to, God knows. But every single friend I had left abroad and I never really even bothered to play the game of assimilation and obedience to the local social rules. And so I kept being on the sidelines, thinking that one day I will find my place in an international environment again, among kindred spirits, and I will do something unconventional and creative, and I will get paid for it. Was I naive? Maybe.
But that’s not how things went. Somewhere between trying to find a good job, and my calling in life, and figuring out where in the world I should live, and where I belong, I ended up among the people I have nothing in common with. All these years searching for a home didn’t bring me any closer to it. And thats considering that I should be grateful that I even have a place to stay! It took years of waiting before I got offered an appartement. All this just makes me feel so hopeless at times. I know I shouldn’t complain. But I also know that I dont fit in here. All my talents, my higher education, beauty, intelligence and big ambitions – will it all just go to waste, while I spend my life moving from one council house to another?
My biggest problem is my inability to dig myself out of this hole, because I cant trade my talent for money or a pointless rat race. I am a writer and an artist, Im hard-wired this way – this is what makes me unique and my life meaningful – but creative talents rarely bring its owners massive success and the big buck needed to change their life for the better. I’m afraid I will be doomed to live a life of poverty if I dont make it in the artistic business. Art is so important, its a part of me. And I cant give a part of me up for the sake of money, the same way u wont exchange the love of ur life for a million dollars. Its a catch 22 situation.
This is why so few people follow their dreams and their heart, because the sacrifices of stability, comfort and predictability are too difficult and scary for some to make. I get it, I really do – its a constant roller coaster ride, u can only hope that the new low that deals another blow will eventually bring u higher.. But I get so desperate at times that I wonder if life is worth living. Why I was born this way? Maybe if I was a plain Jane, if I was like everybody else around me, if I was more adaptable, I would be more content in life, more satisfied, more accepting of things as they are. But I just cant be, I can not accept the life that I’m leading… I want my freedom. I want my recognition. I want a place to belong. I want out. Is it too much to ask for?