My Shit Hole, My Home

There’s a reason why I write. I suck at saying what needs to be said when it matters. And today that law from the life of Rose definitely applies.

You see, I shouldn’t have gone out tonight.

I had dinner with a good friends whom I aaaadooooreee. I have been so blessed to have them in my life the past 2 years and when they moved to my town it made life THAT MUCH BETTER. haha When we parted ways tonight it clicked that I probably won’t see them again till November. It also clicked that I am so blessed to have this beautiful family in my life.

For real. I don’t deserve their love.

In came the feels. It hit like a subtle wave, but it was there. I came home to an empty apartment and my feelings were magnified. I have been trying to be more cognizant of my emotions and halfheartedly tried to ascertain if what I was feeling was sadness, loneliness, fear, a bit of all three or something completely different. I wasn’t sure. But I knew I was feeling kinda low and didn’t want to be alone.

So I messaged some friends to come see me. Turns out they were free to hang and soon they were on their way. As I awaited their arrival I got a text saying that I should meet them at our local hangout spot for tea and shisha. I knew immediately that I didn’t want to go. And not just cause it would have meant putting on pants. (pants are from the devil. As are socks, shoes, bras and most women’s clothing… but that’s for another day) I had feels. I just wanted to sit in my living room with people I love and feel those feels. But I didn’t say that. I put on pants and went out.

Now let us pause to acknowledge a few things I realised tonight:

a) I suck at expressing my needs.

b) I am not good at inviting people into my pain and

c) It hurts me when people shit on my shit hole.

Expressing Needs

Let’s start with the first. I knew I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to be in a public space where I would feel the need to be present and on. I knew I needed others and that it was healthy to reach out rather than sit and mope or avoid my emotions through Netflix and Facebook. I rightfully figured that having others around would be a good way to deal with my emotions, but I didn’t express to my friends that that was what I needed.

When they asked how I was, I was honest. I said that I was sad, and that I wasn’t well, but I didn’t express how they could help with that need. For all they knew, I just needed good hangs, laughs and tea with good people. What I didn’t realise until I got to the restaurant was that while I wanted all those things, I wanted them in the security of my home. Where I would feel safe to be without fear of making a scene. I’m still Caribbean after all, and public displays of vulnerability were never really a thing. Heck neither were private ones if we’re being honest.

Inviting Others Into My Pain

Which leads me to number two. I’m bad at inviting people into my pain. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling, and failed to express what I had discerned were my needs. As such, I spent the few hours oscillating between irreverent banter, gazing off into nothingness, staring at my phone and being kinda mean. I needed to be drawn out, and I forget that most people aren’t going to be like me and take expressions of sadness as a cue to pursue. Nor are they generally used to me wanting to be drawn out emotionally. So it’s really my fault, as I always say “Can’t nobody read no minds.”

Well, it turns out that when I avoid my emotions I am not always the best person to be around. (haha sorry y’all) It cycles, cause then people notice I’m off, ask me if I’m ok, I say no and am mildly annoyed cause I already said so an hour ago, and then it’s like well maybe your mood could have changed, and I want to scream I’M NOT IN A MOOD I WANT TO GREIVE but I’m in public and that would be weird and also that would be vulnerable and I suck at emotion. So I say nothing, while silently planning how I can escape back to my pantless existence from a few hours before without seeming ungrateful or rude lol.

My Shit Hole, My Home

I hate when people shit on my shit hole.

It’s been happening for a while. Heck, I do it all the time. And tonight someone innocently mentioned how my apartment is depressing. I get it. Objectively it is. There are cracks in the ceiling and the walls. The faucet in the tub is constantly flowing with hot water, creating a constant dripping sound and mild sauna whenever you go to do your business. Everything is in bins or in bags. The kind of bags you use for recycling so their kinda clear and smell like low grade Febreeze.

There is almost no furniture. What is left, the futon frame, dining table and the lonely microwave sitting on the floor, is a far cry from our glory days or inviting, furnished heaven. Our mattresses are on the floor in the living room loosely covered with a sheet or sleeping bag.

There is no screen to our balcony door, cause the super never finished fixing it and our front door has duct tape along its edges; our last ditch attempt at keeping the 11th plague of the apocalypse out.

It’s bad.

We’ve been fighting this war against the cursed scourge that are bed bugs and 8 months later it seems that we have lost the war. We are the martyrs of Mayview Avenue. Many have come and fallen. Few remain. And from the outside we look completely insane. People, when they aren’t treating us like lepers look at us with mild pity. People who used to love to spend time here, no longer grace our doors. And the nice folk who still dare to come by nicely tell us it isn’t that bad. “It just looks like you’re moving.” Most people don’t want to enter the now forbidden gates. And if we’re honest sometimes we don’t even want to be here.

In short, it’s a shit hole.

I live in a shit hole.

But something clicked tonight:

This shit hole is mine. This shit hole is my home.

These walls have heard my prayers. These floors have held my tears. Over the last three years, there have been highs and lows, failures and victories, dreams and nightmares. Friendships were made, family was chosen and my life was forever changed. I can’t stand on that balcony and look out to the north without remembering all the random moments I have had while living here.

This is the longest I have lived anywhere since I left high school and in about 6 days, I will be leaving it for good. To some three years may seem like nothing, to others an eternity. But as someone who has trouble building roots and wrestles with serious fears towards intimacy, the after effects of choosing to be somewhere this long are heart wrenching. Eventually seasons end. Eventually you have to go. And like all your inner dialogue has ever told you, building roots is dangerous not because of what happens when you stay, but because of what happens when you have to go. That is the part that kills. Letting your heart rest, learning to love a place and the people in it. Allowing yourself to be known, then one day waking up realising this is the end of a season, and though this place remains and some of these people may be in your life forever. It will never be the same again.

I know people mean well when the empathise with our plight. I know it’s unappealing to enter a space that is essentially and semi constantly infested. I know that our building managers aren’t very good at their jobs. I know that objectively speaking no one would want to live here.

But I did. I do. And until day 6 comes around, this shit hole is my home. This shit hole is mine. Sitting here in the dark, writing as everyone sleeps, for what will be one of the last times in this place, I just long for those I love to put on an outfit they don’t love (cause you may want to stick it in the dryer after), stick their purse/bag on the balcony and sit at my ghetto ass table or on my floor based mattress and for one last time fellowship with me in my home. It may look and feel like a prison cell, and some days it does, but it is the only home I’ve had for the last 3 years and once I leave it, I am not sure when the next time a place will be that for me again.

Let us laugh.

Let us pray.

Let us sing.

Let us remember.

Let’s break out the champagne and raise a toast to this place, the sanctuary it has been to many, the home it has been to me, and the shit hole it has become. Multi faceted, just like me. And all mine. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.