You See After Breaking Your Glass

Like fragile glass wrapped in bubble wrapping, I've learned my life is encased, protected from dangers I've only heard of. Movies portray the homeless as an aesthetic, never representing them as it is in reality. Countless times, I've seen people on the side of the road, holding up a sign, most likely because it's the only source of income in their unknown situation. From the safety of my car, I watch out the window, pitying their current state, though I would be in the same circumstances if it were not for my parents undying support and investment into my life. Growing up with the privileges given to me by my parents, I must have mistaken this protected life for reality. Driving up to Santa Monica, I imagined the shopping, expensive meals, and warmth as my feet collided with the sand from the beach. Never did I expect homeless men and women, struggling to find shade on the side of the road. Some envelop backpacks in a hug, most likely full of their possessions, others laying on a mat, sleeping to escape the summer heat. Walking the streets to head to the mall, a wave of guilt washes over me. Here I am, going to spend money shamelessly, without a second thought while there are people struggling to find decent meals. Trying to create a distraction from these people, I create small chatter with my mother as we walk hand in hand. At last, we arrive at the mall entrance, just a few feet away from the shopping experience I awaited. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a man walking towards us at a fast pace Screaming nonsense that I didn't understand. By instinct, my hand tugged at my mom's, pulling her towards me. My grip, iron tight, on what seemed like my only life source at the time. My mom immediately pulled me forward, escaping the man's direct line of sight. This man proceeded to walk forward and disappear into the parking lot, unaware of the state he left me and my mother in. Even on this blazing summer day, my blood ran cold after this event. I stood frozen in place, unable to process what had just happened on our first day at Santa Monica. My mother, able to recover faster than I, pushed me out of my trance and continued to walk with me into the entrance as originally planned. By some motherly instinct, she was able to understand the shock I had just experienced. The constant replay in my head, a dvd that spun on repeat. It wouldn't leave my mind. No one in my family knew how deep this event scared me, but it became known after our trip to Skid Row. Walking through the streets was a scene I could not recognize. Men and women laying on the streets, smoke rising from the cigarettes people lit. Trash littered throughout the roads, buildings full of graffiti. If I was honest, I was scared to my core, body shaking uncontrollably. I found my hand reaching for my mothers, the only familiar feeling around. Every time someone walked by me, I'd grip my mom's hand tighter looking for any sort of comfort or reassurance that I wouldn't be attacked like I had been a few days ago. Only after I sat in the warm seat of my car did my shoulders slump in relaxation. Now in the comfort of our big car, I was able to release a breath I didn't know I was holding. Driving past the countless tents and mattresses I took a mental image, one I would never forget. Then, a sight which brought me to the realization that my life was a luxury, a life based on riches. A mother struggling to push her child in the stroller while carrying bags full of what I could see was blankets and groceries. While I was complaining about being in a hotel with only one bed, people were struggling to find a place on the road. The trip tore open my fake reality and broke through my protective glass. I used to think living like I did was normal. Where kids my age had the newest phone, wore the newest trends, had the best electronics, all provided by our parents. Going day to day with tutors that answered all the questions we had, where the power of knowledge came to us by the few types on a keyboard. Having as many meals as needed to suffice our hunger and as much money it takes for our happiness. Growing up in this virtual reality like world, I never had to look at situations in which people couldn't support themselves. It keeps me up, knowing that the small town I live in is a hundred times different than the way people are living elsewhere. I came to the conclusion that being spoiled does relate directly to being selfish, narcissistic, and bratty like portrayed in movies where children control the weak-minded parents. That is not the case at all. It shows when it's the only way you've grown up, privileged. Being spoiled is never the problem, and neither is being privileged. It matters in which direction you use your benefits and advantages, to make everything worthwhile. As Ijeoma Oluo said, β€œWhen we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else's oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.”

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William

artist, musician, writer, Luddite

Troy, United States