I’m listening to Melissa A,
homeless and on her first
visit to the Village.


“You’ve done it.
You don’t trust yourself.
You need to be your own hero
but that’s days and weeks away.

“I shouldn’t be here
but I’ve made bad decisions
and every time I chose the wrong thing
it got deeper and more difficult
…living in ‘mud’ instead of different.

“I know I can reach it.
‘It’ is purpose,
competence and energy,
understanding and happiness –
so many things
and when they’re all put together
they bring stability.

“Whatever they are
is what I’m trying to become.

“First time I fell
I lay there and cried.
Second time I knew
it was going to hurt.

“Third time, I asked,
Why am I falling? Self-destruction? Heart aches? Relationships? Motherhood?

“I can’t figure them out separately but it’s getting easier to get back on track.
When I fall, all my life experiences and lessons pad and protect me.

“Twelve years ago when I, when my son was born I had purpose. I had allegiance.
But I made mistakes I can’t take back. Can I show him I care? Can I show him what I’ve become?
I talk a good talk. It all makes sense up here, in my head, but I can’t walk it. I make a million excuses
for myself, for my reactions to things, for how I spend my energy.

“All the discussions, all the past I need to give up. I look at myself and wonder.
Am I’m putting on a mask: …happy adventuress …or bitter, dark and alone?

“Tears, sadness, anguish. Every time I’ve been alone it’s been a result of tragedy.
Am I always going to wear that jacket, trying, pretending to be something I’m not?
It’s choice, over and over and over again.

“With no skill to ignore it, to walk on, I create my own demise.
I need to stop, look and listen. To be aware.
I’m not quiet, looking for what I want: looking for love, for not being hurt; to be soft and peaceful.
But life comes in forms that are unexpected, and always tempting. I’m wondering, coming and going.

“OK, how do I put this? Addictions: alcohol, now exercising (6 days a week, 4 hours a day)
I replace one addiction with another addiction.

“I want to be obedient to myself. I want control. But how? I organize my stuff. I get clean.
I throw everything in the trash: all my paraphernalia in the trash. It’s a choice I’m comfortable with.
But it only works when I quit polluting the waters of my life.

“I forgive me but I can’t forget. Do I have to live in that dump? I’m moving forward. I want to stay focused.
It’s a choice over and over and over again to be with loving, kind, helpful, patient people:
to take care of our place, to respect this land that is borrowed.

“Walk on and tell me what I’m looking at. I see little that is taken care of. Not even the people themselves.

Yet I like the way we speak plain English to each other.”


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