Here I am.

Do you ever take a step back and look at where you are standing, and say "Wow, my feet are planted firmly in the ground," and feel shocked? Slap me silly, but I have a full time, salaried position with benefits. I'm in(doors) one place long enough to have a cat. I have a gym pass, and a relatively stable long-term relationship. I am living the American Dream... and I guess this is what I've prepared for in my upbringing and my job training and my social grooming (ha, right...). I've repeated these facts to myself a hundred, no make that two hundred, times and it still seems unreal.

Three years ago I spent no longer than six weeks in any one city at a time, for an entire year. I lived out of a duffel bag, consequently had the entire contents of my duffel bag stolen, and made $300 a month by working full-time for the government in a program called AmeriCorps NCCC. In a matter of one year I worked as a wildland firefighter, elementary school tutor, affordable housing construction/volunteer coordinator, environmental assistant, disaster relief worker, and summer service program leader. I lived in 8 states, met people who dedicated their entire lives to serving their communities, and made connections with like-minded peers that were inspired by addressing our nations needs.

The following half-year I took a few college classes, was unemployed, and lived out of a tent for about 4 months. I was a transient. We cooked veggies in the fire, moved camp every two weeks, walked in the woods, showered at friends' houses and water spigots and public restrooms.  Hands-down it was the best summer of my life.

And the next year I abandoned my unfinished college education for a shot in the city with a national non-profit, a chance to experience something new. AmeriCorps VISTA taught me the *actual* challenges of working a social system, standing in line for food stamps, finding affordable housing in a city where my income was less than 20% of the median income. I learned the intricacies of navigating office functions, appreciated humor in the workplace, and received an education award to pay down my college debt.

And during all of this I worked hard. I volunteered a lot. I put my heart and my hands and my head into my work. I learned more than I've mentally processed and actually understand. Cheers. Mom and Dad, thanks for your support. I'll start paying my own cell phone bill soon.

PS. I feel extremely lucky and grateful for my job. More on that later.

Comments

  1. I love reading about your experiences, and I truly, look forward to each post. You are an inspiring, amazing person.

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