home by clare maceda


As children we depend on things, toys, games, stuffed animals.
Begging for the newest game, the newest toy, the newest this, the newest that.
Throwing fits when our wish isn’t met.
Take candy from a baby and hear it roar.
So imagine taking away a child’s house, it’s home, it’s everything.
Lumping it in with beggars on the street, previously ignored.
People that child has walked past for years hoping they wouldn’t follow or berate them.
Lost without the safety of the room they grew up in,
Lost without the neighborhood they knew so well,
Lost without the comfort of a house.
Four walls and a roof defining their everything.
Defining how many friends they had, if they could have sleepovers, if they met the standard.
And yet without such definition,
Having to attend school and pretend they were just like others.
Feeling as if their soul was ripped out with the uprooting of a stationary lifestyle.
Nomadic, horrified, ashamed.
Coming back as late as possible and leaving just as early in order to be in their excuse of a home for as little time as possible.
Wondering why they couldn’t have a bed, heat, pocket money.
Why was this happening to them. Why now? Why me? Why this?
Blaming anyone and everyone; teachers, parents, God.
Having to ignore the comments on their weight because they didn’t want to have to explain they couldn’t afford the food needed to “put meat on their bones.”
Trying not to hate people that didn’t check their privilege.
We think of the homeless as bag ladies, madmen frothing at the mouth, but it’s more than that.
It’s your teacher, your friend, your peer, your enemy.
It’s hiding behind the identity of a middle class citizen they had seen on TV.
Praying that they won’t become a pariah.
Hoping they won’t become an outcast; doing anything and everything to blend into the walls of a memory.
But what doesn’t kill you doesn’t just make you stronger it makes you smarter.
Makes you realize how frivolous “things” can be.
Exposed to the elements; cramped in a car you realize that you can do it.
You can live without your iron bed frame. You can live without your closet or your dresser.
You don’t need a kitchen with an island or an espresso machine to be happy.
I found that you need support.
And in times of such dependence we think that “things” provide support.
But it’s your friends, your family, your self assurance that give you the power to be independent.
The weight that is lifted off your chest when someone says you can stay with them if anything happens, that you can turn to them, that you aren’t alone is incomparable to the false sense of security you find in a three floor townhouse in Park Slope.
You cannot depend on your next paycheck, your next interview, your tomorrow.
You can only rely on now.
Find security in the dedication of your blood, in the voice of someone close to you, of the beat of your heart.
Find your home, homeless.
A house don’t determine your value. You do.

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