Walking through the busy streets of Asheville, my heart is racing almost as fast as my thoughts. Tolstoy struggles to keep up. I want to get to where I'm going as quickly as I can because I am scared to death - of everyone and everything.
The sky is as blue as Carolina gets, full of giant, fluffy clouds. The sun brightens the weather to a near perfect temperature, yet my gaze remains steadily on the ground.
My extreme panic mounts as I navigate my way through tourists, locals and buskers performing on various street corners.
I don't want to look at anyone, or anything. I just want to get to the natural grocery store to buy my angel pug some food, then get back inside, where I feel safe.
Out of no where, I hear a familiar voice screaming my name. "RACH! RACH! RACH!"
The sound makes me cringe.
A homeless man is yelling for my attention. He will continue shouting, then follow me, unless I respond to him.
I hate everything about THIS.
And, the fact that it's gonna happen every two feet, on what feels like a never-ending walk across the quaint city, full of shops, eccentric people and restaurants I expected to love. I've grown to loathe this place, thanks to forced destitution.
With exasperation, I stop for what I hope to be a quick hello.
The man, with a gaping, toothless grin, says "you're so beautiful." His voice is gruff as sandpaper. I know him from what I've come to call "The Homeless Shuffle," which is how we survive out here in the streets.
We congregate at various places where we are fed, clothed and remain safe, until we return to shelters around town, or tents, depending on personal choice, priorities and circumstances.
As I've told you all, Tolstoy and I were forced to camp out, until we were blessed to be accepted to a Women's Shelter, called Room in the Inn, which literally saved my life! I'll write a post about this in the future, but please do take a moment to check out the program and feel free to donate, if you are moved to do so.
I am so grateful to everyone involved in this program (and many others!), especially the Director, who found it in her heart to help a very broken Go-Go Rach. Her faith in me, coupled with the incredible job she does is the reason I've been able to hang on, through the most trying time of my life. I humbly thank you all for everything you do!
One look at the gentle, broken soul before me proves his years on the street.
In contrast to me, his skin is hard, eyes yellow, his worn-out body is filthy from head to toe. The clothes he wears day in and day out, are dirty, torn and hanging off his frail body. He reeks of alcohol, with a ring of tobacco stains around his mouth and fingers, as he proceeds to tell me all about every single thing in his life.
I stand there, uncomfortable, as I hope for a break in the chatter where I may politely excuse myself.
He's got a lot to say today...
Finally, I interrupt him, then walk away, as he continues to assault me with questions I ignore.
I feel like I am going to pass out.
*Yes. This is really my life.*
Tolstoy and I get back to our errand, while I remind myself, this nightmare will end in less than a WEEK! I've received a grant for housing through the shelter, that will pay my rent for a full year in a furnished, one bedroom apartment, while I work hard to get back on my feet, after the hell I've been through!
I'm moving to another neighborhood, that is far enough away from downtown that I won't have to deal with these experiences anymore. CFW!
Although I've met some amazing people on the streets of Asheville, I have no desire to form relationships with most of them because all they are interested in is "the hustle," that I wish I knew nothing about, or complaining about their plight, brought on by whatever substance they continue to use in order to numb out the pain they cannot reach.
They still try to get me to drink/drug with them, which is the last thing I ever want to do in my current state of mind, or circumstances.
FOOD. SHELTER. CLOTHING.
The city that brought so much hope in August, has become my worst nightmare. I hate what's happened to me here and how I've been forced to live. I hate that I know these people. Even worse, I hate that they know me.
It is what it is.
As I said on the twitter yesterday, sometimes it takes a good ass-kicking to realize what we've got.
As much as this has sucked, I am glad it happened.
I will never forget what I've been through.
I used to take everyone and everything in my life for granted, until I lived through homelessness.
Every day alive is a GIFT.
All I want to do is write my books and give back to the community I've been so blessed to be a part of.
In the meantime, I will post videos here on Dream Check Fridays.
Aside from that, I will work toward getting well.
I've been through HELL, friends.
AMAZING GRACE has saved me.
There are so many organizations I intend to thank, over the next coming months, as I post. For now, I'd also like to send a shout out to The Be Loved House, which holds a special place in my heart, thanks to the ladies who run it out of the kindness and generosity of their hearts WITH NO PAY! I love you guys! xoxo
'Till Next Time,
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