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It wasn't every day you got to spend a whole bunch of days sleeping on the ground outside. It wasn't every day you got to spend a whole bunch of days sleeping on the ground outside with a pandemic raging on. It wasn't every day you got to spend a whole bunch of days sleeping on the ground outside with a pandemic raging on, during the COVID 19 pandemic. And yet, there I was, sleeping on the ground outside during a pandemic. Of all the places I could have been, I was homeless. There were a lot of people who were afraid. They heard about something that happened on the news, they got petrified of the potential results, and so they decided to bunker down and buy a whole bunch of toilet paper to the point were it was almost completely sold out in every grocery store. Can you imagine that much toilet paper being bought out? I guess I could? I mean, that was pretty ridiculous! That much toilet paper being bought out! Dude! That much toilet paper! Me? I wasn't afraid, and I still am not. For God is my refuge and my strength, and I put my trust in him. God says He will protect me in His word, so it will be. I don't need to see, I know and I believe. And so far, I haven't gotten COVID throughout the pandemic (and for all you conspiracy theorists out there, ‘the plandemic,' that being said with an overexaggerated wink), so, I think He's done a great job as He always does! He made heaven and earth and all things. Shouldn't I trust Him when He makes a promise? A lot of things were closed and being homeless that was frustrating at times. I was restricted in what I could do and how I could do it. There were so many of my favorite places that were shut down, and I was really limited in what I could do. But, I was pretty busy writing. I got my first publications throughout this pandemic so I am pretty happy. I remember calling my brother on the phone when he and my family had got covid and he was saying, “Dude, I lost my sense of smell and taste. It feels bad man,” He replied. I was chuckling and sarcastically replying with, “Oh, you poor, sad little thing, you,” and both of us started laughing. As the pandemic starts to wrap up, with tensions still high in some cases and people still on alert, I am still homeless as I write this and its frustrating at times, but I have hope. It may seem like its hopeless at times, but I know it's not! I have seen it first hand! God's been good this whole time, and I believe he will continue to be to the very end. For the time being, I need to keep striving and believing, not becoming disheartened or discouraged by the setbacks, and continue to believe despite the odds I go against. May Lord Jesus Christ have all the glory!
Anyway, one time, weather and wildlife got together to form the perfect storm of sorts, when I went inside to use the restroom. An armadillo whispered into my headset that I had so delicately and professionally placed on his back, mistaking him for a pillow. The client mistook his whisper, further garbled by the wind and rain, as my voice. Fortunately, I returned just in time to stop the emergency appendectomy on the patient with poor English skills, as it turned out she just came by to donate some PPE. The selfless, totally professional interpreter that I am, I prevented an awful disaster and another huge lawsuit. All thanks to quick zipping, hand-wash-skipping and pure dumb luck. That's the kind of heroics that, my colleagues and I, and other non-linguist, and therefore not as important, on-line laborers, have had to demonstrate in these tumultuous times. Sadly, it has gone mostly unnoticed. Thankfully, unnoticed just enough for me to keep my job. As much as I enjoy the freedom of working from home in my backyard, I still mourn the loss of dignity of workspace. No crying babies, barking dogs or whistling armadillos. No weather or wildlife in the form of family members, or other random animals adding their own soundtrack to the workday. Just an angry supervisor breathing notes of garlic, convenience store wine, and disapproval on my neck. I especially miss looking out my office window at the park across the street and thinking how cool it would be to work from a bench at the park. Nothing like a pandemic to knock some sense into my feeble psyche.
I have stacked copies of our company's guidelines for working from home where the missing leg of the cheap plastic chair once proudly stood, but the chair is still shaky. I have been telling my video clients that my Florida office is located right on top of a fault line in the neighboring state of California where such tremors are a common, daily occurrence this time of year, meaning year-round. It is a testament to the strength of our K-12 education and endurance of culturally inflicted geographical unawareness in this country that no one has questioned the validity of that statement. Florida borders California on the left, Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south. You never know when our prestigious high school education is going to play a crucial role in someone's career. Being outdoors have caused many technical issues. Especially on Thursdays, when we hang our laundry on the ethernet cable. It was a company requirement to have a hard wire connection. Otherwise, I'd be stealing Wi-Fi from the county jail down the street like everyone else. The county does change the password weekly, but one of the fine overgrown teenagers in the neighborhood is sure to go to jail every other day. So, the whole community has the updated password all the time. Because I was having issues constantly, with or without wet laundry hanging, and because the wired internet connection idea was theirs, my company set up a satellite IT office in my front yard, staffed by a technician around the clock to address my issues. I don't call tech support anymore. I just yell "help!" and the technician runs right over with the neighbor's two pit-bull dogs in hot pursuit. The technician is not only a well-trained network engineer, but he is also a very good runner. The company must train these guys extensively or hire only Olympic athletes. Even so, he had to get a few stitches last week when one of the dogs was able to catch up with him, but only because he tripped on our high-tech irrigation system which consists of a garden hose running from the kitchen window to the backyard. Having the technician camp out front has given my whole family such a renewed sense of security that I cancelled my security monitoring service agreement with my neighbor where we tied a long trigger wire rope to one of his dogs' tail at nights. We alternated nights with each dog. On Sundays when my neighbor drives his mother to church, they need both dogs to secure their own house to protect his extensive collection of vintage garbage bags, in case one of our many unscrupulous, sketchy neighbors was tempted. So, on Sundays, both dogs were on garbage detail. And they detailed the heck out of those garbage bags full of vintage garbage. And there were plenty of yelling and re-bagging of priceless garbage going on every Sunday afternoon when the neighbors came home from church. The good news was, because the dogs needed Sundays off, a raccoon, well known in the neighborhood for his mischievous escapades, got gainful employment, albeit part time, as our weekend security guard. The cancellation of the dog-powered alarm system saves me money because now I don't have to buy their owner a generic six pack of beer every week. The raccoon only worked for food, which he would have stolen anyway, so that is a net gain of zero dollars. He is still well-fed. While mostly a good thing, working outdoors does come with unique challenges in the form of wildlife and weather. Apparently, a raccoon perched on your shoulders is not a "professional look" for our company. The same goes for bird poop on our company shirt. Even when it lands smack in the middle of the company logo where color was sorely lacked. I personally thought it added an old-worldly charm and said, in vividly bright colors that only genuine bird poop can bring out: "we are one with nature", or "we are not a fashion, nor a fashionable company", depending on the bird dialect. I am an on-line medical interpreter, and as a professional linguist, I can appreciate these little nuances better than anyone. The weather is a harder pill to swallow. The constant howling of the wind and rain is sometimes perceived as words that no one uttered, causing many anecdotal issues, some leading to lawsuits which I am not allowed to talk about due to a 'gag order' as some cases are still under litigation. For those of you who are not professional linguists, or are not otherwise well-versed in legal jargon because they're not lawyers, judges or criminal entrepreneurs from the other side of the fence, I will pause here while you go and look up the words 'gag order' and 'litigation' in your favorite dictionary app. Or if you live in a different time zone, say 1970's, you can use an actual print dictionary. You know, like a book.
I was one of the few “lucky” ones. I worked from home. I enjoyed very much the quiet solitude that came from dramatically reduced human encounters. And the complete lack of traffic on my way to the spare back room. I complemented my insincerely professional look of company-issued, increasingly cardboard-crisp shirt with an even crisper Manchester United tie. The tie, totally unsanctioned by my employer, is a conscious nod to my repressed middle-school-aged inner child, and my proud contribution to internet fashion. It is also the second adrenaline-pumping risk I take on the job after the laptop radiation. Below the waist, I went weekend casual, as per the Florida state-mandated indoor dress code, with sun-starved chicken legs crowned with boyfriend boxers the last girlfriend purposefully left behind eons ago. I had already become a poor imitation of Howard Hughes. The same hygienic fortitude and social finesse, but with much less financial gusto. Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, everybody started working from home. I was no longer a lone soulless internet grazer. I was joined by countless others. As a side order with this god-awful new reality, came the fact that now everybody was doing everything from home, not just their jobs. With all this widespread home-schooling, home-quarantining, and general home-hoarding, not to mention all this working-from-home, working from home became a challenge. Before all this, my family was never home together at the same time other than at bedtime when everyone went to their separate slumber pods, thus minimizing any risk of togetherness. We now found ourselves having to make some grand adjustments to survive our newly congested hallways, bathrooms, and the overall airspace. According to a certain individual I do not wish to identify for fear of retribution, whom I will refer to as “a household member of opposite gender with veto powers”, our normally quite roomy house stopped being roomy. We started losing square footage and air volume for no apparent reason. We were experiencing a severe shortage of breathable air and quiet serenity. Somehow, we popped a leak somewhere, and apparently it was not where three children whined annoyingly, two dogs barked loudly, and a certain female yelled lovingly. It turns out, the leakage concentrated around my little corner of the house where I had set up shop for quietly working from home, away from all the disruptive elements. Just like all other mysterious phenomena at our house such as missing items, broken toys, unexplained smells and unprovoked smirks, this, too, was deemed my fault. Something had to change. They had the numbers. I had the neatly nested red circles on the back of anything I might wear. As any self-respecting hunter knows well, by moving, a target can avoid getting hit in vital organs. But with that comes the risk of debilitating wounds with life-long disability implications. Faced with equally rewarding choices, I decided a coin toss is the prudent thing to do. The coin was shot in the air with a perfectly symmetrical hole right in the middle. She may not be able to tell a ladle from a spatula, but she sure can handle a firearm. Another reason well-justifying my decision to marry local. So, I had to move. Thus changed my ‘working from home' situation. Technically, I am no longer working from home, but rather, working from behind home. Age of internet, meet the great outdoors! I hung my blue backdrop from a tree in the back yard. I placed my laptop on an old, rusty barbecue grill dumped in my backyard by a recycle-weary environmentalist neighbor that has not grilled anything since colonial times. The grill disintegrated into dust immediately, so a nearby tree log dating back only to my childhood became my new workstation. Unlike cheap metal and social conscience, some trees just don't decay, I guess. My throne is a plastic lawn chair that is missing a leg, compliments of a wayward alligator who obviously mistook it for a four-legged white bird. We either have strangely mutated birds, or alligators with severe eyesight issues. Those obese lizards can spot a mischievous cat, small child or a clueless tourist hooking bait in shallow water from a mile away. So, my money is on the foul-smelling tint on the lake, causing mutations, compliments of the nuclear power plant down the river. Freaky creatures are such commonplace occurrences here that at the maternity ward shop they sell balloons that say, “it's a baby with all four, and only four limbs”. That gator is just fine. He's got better than 20/20 on all three eyes.
I'm an average administrative worker, who has been allowed to work from home for the past 4 months and is loving it. I had been, up to that point, just another sleep-deprived office drone with a hellish commute. I hadn't given much thought or attention to the coronavirus, until I began to notice how frequently that name began to appear in my boss' meeting calendar. I live in the south; compared to my previous home in the New England area, the south had been relatively spared up to that point. But I eventually got word that I would have to collect my laptop and any other needed office tools and begin reporting to work via email the following day. While putting together my things, I suddenly felt the urge to find a few small keepsakes – I realized I wasn't sure when I would see my desk again. A familiar line floated through my mind: “If I could find a souvenir, just to prove the world was here…” Something peculiar was about to happen for all of us, but I pushed aside my anxiety. I had too much to look forward to – I was finally on the verge of getting a decent night's sleep! I said a few quick goodbyes, remembered to gather the potted orchid plants from my desk, and headed happily for the elevators. In the past four months, I have managed to fashion for myself a reliable daily schedule. My early morning still provides me with hours more sleep time than I used to get. I stick to my same work schedule; contact with my co-workers is extremely limited and when we do reach out to each other, it's usually to marvel at how weird our lives have become. I order food deliveries to my home, venture out as seldom as possible and spend much more time talking with my mother, who I live with. Until this point, we had been living as roommate acquaintances, sharing a few words once I got home for the day, then disappearing into our own corners of the house. I had to prepare for the next day's work and an early bedtime. The guilt I felt about my mother's loneliness in my very presence only added to my exhaustion. Now, we have all our meals together. I help her manage her medications and pop out of the computer room as often as I can, to check in with her. We talk about what the virus is doing to our state, and how horrible the news has been lately. But more than anything, we laugh. I'm happy. But I'm not relaxed. Each day that I enjoy is just another day closer to the inevitable ending of my new lifestyle, and I'm not sure which ending it will be. Will I be forced to return to the old, familiar treadmill of 3 hours driving per day and 4 hours sleep per night? Or will I find myself adrift, cut loose from my employment along with the other 3 million people in this area whose security has suddenly gone missing? I know that most of the job losses have been in businesses that rely on foot traffic of some kind – shoppers, revelers, tourists, sports fans. I don't work in any of those industries. Still, no one has said they are the only ones vulnerable to cuts. I tell myself that I will understand and be philosophical if I am eventually given notice that I'm being let go. Once again, I begin to imagine the end, with the bizarre logic that replaying the scene in my mind will lessen the sting of it when I am forced into a live performance. It is my plan to transcend the awfulness of the moment – to surprise everyone by responding without rancor, and then to share how grateful I am to have been kept on for as long as I have been. Once the talk is concluded and I am no longer on the line, I imagine my bosses praising my professionalism, while they admire how I'd managed to make a difficult discussion so much easier for them. I have not yet tired of mentally rerunning this little scenario where I get to be both the victim and the hero. In the meantime, I breathe a sigh of relief when I check my bank account each payday morning and wonder how long all of this is going to last. Four months and one week. And counting.
In amidst of this this unstoppable slaughter, the world is healing itself. There is no other way to be smarter, than to shove the bad old deeds in a shelf. As people tried to save'em selves, the sneaky virus spread. Many loved ones lost their hopes, as their closest ones fell dead. Ancient people were the cleverest, they weren't primitive fools. They fed us with knowledge, and chaos surviving tools. Economies got torn apart, due to microscopic speck. No way to destroy it's evil lair, cause you can't destroy your own neck. There is still a chance of survival, so we must not lose hope. Not only yours, you can save others lives too, with a simple bar of soap
I was sitting with my wife at breakfast this bright summer morning, enjoying a meal of softly poached eggs atop homemade bread and a small bowl of watermelon chunks. The eggs and toast were delicious and we both ate in silence, relishing the tasty yoke juice intermingled with the golden-crunchy bread. We made lip smacking noises as we ate and didn't talk much, as was our usual morning meal ritual. I saved my watermelon chunks for last, imagining the light, nectar sweetness of the blushing red melon meat. After a couple bites I broke our morning silence and remarked, “This is seedless watermelon, isn't it?” My lovely wife nodded her head in ascent. I forked another chunk and removed it from the tines with my teeth. The fruit wasn't as sweet as I had imagined. “You know, if you take a moment to wonder, if there are no seeds, then how do they grow more seedless melon?” My wife refrained from answering, having been raised not to talk with her mouthful. A brash robin twittered outside. “I mean think about it hon, somebody came up with a way to make seedless watermelon. Why?” I paused to ponder my own question. “How many people actually complained about the seeds anyway? In some parts of the country don't they hold summer watermelon seed spitting contests? Or I seem to remember that in China or someplace, they toast the seeds and eat them. Seeds are very nutritious, probably even medicinal.” One of our dogs scratched at the door to go outside, I got up and let her out. My wife didn't offer any confirmations to my morning speculation. “I'll bet, somebody thought it'd be more convenient not to have to deal with seeds, spitting them out in an unmannered fashion or being forced to clean them up. Another somebody thought seedless watermelon would make a great ‘new and improved' marketing idea to sell more melon and make more profits.” I sat back down at our table and stabbed another red chunk of watermelon. My wife had started eating her bowl of fruit as well. “You know,” I started and my wife looked up at me from her bowl, “one might think the biologists and botanists would have more important things to do than to alter the natural process of vegetation, I mean like just for the heck of it. Seeds are very important. Why get rid of the seeds?” Another of our pets pulled herself from the floor, and wandered over to the door wanting to be released. I again got up and let her go. My wife was slurping spoonfuls of red juice from her bowl. I sat down and looked at my bowl. I shuffled a couple chunks around then pierced another bite and chewed on it. It had less taste than the last bite. It didn't seem to melt in my mouth anymore, but instead, needed to be masticated at length. “This kind of thing just leads people, especially the younger generations to think produce magically appears on the racks in grocery stores.” I was just about done with my bowl of morning fruit as my wife took her plate, bowl and utensils to the sink. “I guess this falls under the old adage, ‘just because you can, doesn't mean you should.' I don't know why we humans have to continually complicated things.” My wife brushed by me on my way to the sink and casually mentioned over her shoulder as she walked to the room we call our library, “It's your turn to do the dishes, isn't it hon?” I love my wife, she's so uncomplicated.
Being both widowed, Rich and I met about 10 years before he was due to retire. He often said that once he retired, he wanted to move to Florida and spend as much time as possible, fishing! I was hesitant thinking Florida was not much more than heat and bug and I really, really don't like bugs! While he visited Florida many times with his first wife and their children, I never had the opportunity to set foot in the Sunshine State. I wasn't too concerned about the heat because I knew wherever we lived, our house would have air conditioning. I was more concerned about the bugs. As I said, I hate bugs! Big or small – doesn't matter. I just don't like them. Being quite comfortable in my New York home, I saw no reason to leave it. Then the unthinkable happened. My husband had an accident while at work that put him into immediate retirement. After his accident, we began making several trips to Florida to check out the different areas in order to find a place upon which we both agreed to build a new home. I was still very skeptical about moving but will admit that I enjoyed our vacations. We traveled from New York down the east coast and up the west coast. During one of these vacations, my sister-in-law volunteered to drive us around the areas near her home. That's when we came to a little town called Punta Gorda that stopped us in our tracks! How could you fall in love with a lump of dirt? Intuition, I guess. It just felt right. We put a deposit on it. Two years later, we paid off the remaining loan and hired a builder. While we found the area to be a quaint little town that has several great restaurants and a civic association that offers many things to keep you busy, we found more. We found home. Our neighbors are friends who are eager to welcome you into their homes for coffee, dinner, and/or lunch and yet aren't intrusive. They respect our privacy but let us know their doors are always open. Almost one year later, we moved into our beautiful Florida home and I was totally surprised and the lack of bugs! Except once every seven years! Lovebugs swarm the area and I do mean swarm! The swarms are so huge, most sensible people stay inside for two or three days until the volume of bugs begins to wane. But that's another story. We moved into our home in April of 1999 and the first thing we did was organize and host a Christmas party for our neighbors. There were only six couples, but the party was fun. We made new friends. Then we joined the civic association and the fishing club. We met more people and made more friends. Nineteen years later, we made the decision to halt our Christmas parties. At our party lasts year, 88 people were invited and 88 people attended. Yes, we made that many friends. I define a friend as a person who I can call anytime day or night and they'll be there. All I'd have to say is, “Something happened. Can you come?” Without question, anyone I'd call would show up. That's a friend and that's why I can call all these people my friends. From living on a dirt road on Long Island New York to a Florida suburb was a huge change for me but it turned out all for the best. I can no longer see a home anywhere else. The climate is perfect. On occasion, we'll have a scorching, summer but many other states do as well. We live on waterfront property, so fishing is as easy as stepping out the back door, off the dock and on the boat. And, last but not least, is the social aspect. I knew many people n New York but none were as friendly as those I met here in Florida. They are more than friends; they are my family. It took us two years to find this little town but since moving here, there is no doubt that it's a beautiful place to live and anyone living here calls Punta Gorda paradise, located just under the rainbow.
As someone who struggles with depression, the term one of those days has a whole different meaning to me. Today has been one of those days. It has been one of those days where I call it a win to have gotten out of bed. Where it was a Herculean effort to put one foot in front of the other and stay up and moving. When I wanted nothing more to lay down, pull a blanket up over my head, and not move for like a month. You can't do that in society. You definitely can't do that as a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home mom adds an element to depression I never knew before. On days when you can't even fathom taking care of the basic needs of yourself to keep functioning – you have to keep your kid(s) going. You managed to open your eyes – you deserve a medal. You sat up and considered getting out of bed. You deserve a parade to go with that medal. If you get up and out of bed, you get a party. If you get up and parent those days…you get it all. You won't care of course. All you want is to curl up, rock, maybe hum, under a blanket, listening to headphones, all alone. So you know, when you are feeling a little more up to it – medals, parades, and parties. Now add in a toddler who just wants to run, climb, dance, spin and play outside - then inside - outside - inside…you get the point. You get up and you manage to do all that - making sure your kid eats, dresses plays laughs and learns. You get all the accolades and celebrations in the land. Except here's the thing – you don't. I want to introduce you to the mind of a stay at home parent in the throes of depression and anxiety. There are days I wake up and every inch of me is screaming. Do you know what it's like to have a toddler dump all her blocks off the wagon, and use it for a skateboard? Exhausting. This kid never stops. Don't get me wrong, I'm lucky. I have a healthy, smart child with a love of life. It's awesome - and exhausting. Her mouth also never stops. “Mama Up. Mama shoes, out. In. Snack, please. Mama Doc. You ok?" You know what you want and aren't afraid to make it known. Mama doesn't want to watch Doc McStuffins for the 150th time - if Mama hears time for your checkup again, Mama is going to want to run into a wall. When you're fighting to just function, excessively cheerful kids shows DO NOT help. Outside. Yeah. When you are in the throes of depression, the last thing you generally like is nature. Let alone playing in a sandbox, and then blowing bubbles and let's not forget playing drag baby girl around the yard in her pool because she loves it and you love her, but you don't want to even be out here let alone running in a circle. No baby girl, Mama is feeding you lunch, but on a normal depression episode day she wouldn't be eating so please don't shove that cheese stick in her mouth, please don't no, no and now I am eating a cheese stick. Around this time, anxiety will show its ugly face. You will doubt everything you do, say, act. Are you being a bad mom, are you letting your mood affect your kid? Did you make sure they ate right and enough, as you have no desire to eat? Are you taking them out enough because you hate being out right now - or are you going out too much to compensate? Does she need quiet time right now, or do you? Did you play enough and teach enough and love enough and discipline enough....and...and...and... So it continues into the night. You will inevitably lay awake at night while anxiety reigns, making your mind constantly go from one worry to another, examining everything for what you did wrong. Once you finally go to sleep though, depression will take over and you will start the cycle again the next morning. It is rarely just one day. Depression episodes last a while, often with anxiety. Besties – isn't it sweet. So to other stay at home parents suffering from depression and anxiety you aren't imaging the suckiness we're stuck with. Your kid(s) are the best things in your life, but sometimes, you have to force the behavior whether or not that feeling is there. Take it easy on yourself. You love them, you would do anything for them and sometimes the disease that turns your entire life upside down wants to take that away from you. It won't. You have made it through this disease to have a life, a spouse and kids – which makes you damn strong. So keep opening your eyes every day and making it about that kid. It's important for them and you. There is NOTHING in your life before them that could have gotten you out of bed on a day like today. That is powerful. That is important. That is lifesaving. You are NOT alone. There are many others. Just know whether you get out of bed today, or just sit up – I am proud of you. The episode will eventually end. You won't have to pretend to have fun chasing your kids around and dancing. You will have fun. You will treasure it in a way that parents who don't suffer from depression will never understand. I do. So here is your medal. Whether you're ready for it or not.
I am fighting, flailing my little arms. A lady and a man I don't know, are stuffing me into this stupid car seat. I look out the fingerprinted window and there she is. Staring, watching, not doing anything at all. A single raindrop wanders its way down the window, lost, nowhere to go. I fight even harder, refusing to stop until I get what I want. The car starts to move, so I twist my body to see if she is still watching. Deepening my twist, so I can get one last glimpse before we turn off the street. I face forward with tears streaking my face. I don't know these people who are taking me away from her. From the lady, I have known all my life— my mother. I am confused, trapped in this strange building. After they took me from my mother, they took me to this horrid place. I feel completely claustrophobic locked in this small room. I hope I can leave this devastating room. I honestly don't know why it seems so devastating, but I guess it just is. The room is bland, boring. The walls are an off-white color. A dissatisfying color. The only toy here is a small kitchen set. The kitchen set looked as if to break at the slightest touch. It has white paint peeling off. The paint being torn from the set, just like me. I miss her terribly, my mother. I feel scared, my anxiety spiking. I am just sitting on this patched up couch looking at the cup of water on the table next to me. Random people keep poking their heads in, trying to encourage me to drink water, but I am not thirsty. I hope they find something better to do than to keep bothering me. The same woman and man that took me from my mother walk through the door and stand in front of me. I stare at them blankly as the woman says, “My name is Ms. Blaster and this is Mr. McDoris.” I nod my head, for my mind is elsewhere. My mind is busy. Busy on all the worries rushing through my head like a tsunami. Ms. Lee gets on both knees and looks directly into my eyes and says gently, “Can you come and follow us, please?” She stands up and walks out of the room, with Mr. McDoris following. I hesitate, then finally give in and run to catch up with them. I walk into a massive lobby. People are sitting in black chairs. It felt airy, unlike the small room I was in. The people were all nicely dressed, they seemed arrogant, even though I have never met them before. Windows cover most of the walls. I continue to follow Mrs. Blaster and Mr. McDoris. They lead me to this woman I remember spending time with a couple of months ago. She would take me to the Kings Dominion and Maymont. The woman is wearing nice clothing just like everyone else, except I could tell that she wasn't like them at all. She's not really tall, but she is definitely much taller than me. Ms. Blaster, Mr. McDoris, and the woman start talking about something that seems like it's important, but I'm not paying attention. I am busy trying to understand the situation. I squeeze onto the woman's hand as if it's my life support. I make our way to the car and she buckles me into my car seat. She walks around the front of the car and gets into the driver's seat. Once again, raindrops hit the window. A single drop wanders all the way to the bottom and disappears. More lead their way into the safety of the frame. Tucked safely together. United. Every insignificant thing belongs somewhere. For some reason, that gives me a sort of clarification that everything is going to be alright. I think this is the first time I truly feel safe in a really long time, I don't have to endure any more pain, physical nor emotional like I have before. I also think that you have to believe it yourself, you have to believe that things are going to get better. You have to have hope. Hope. Hope is a wonderful thing. For the first time, I have hope. I have hope that I will be safe. I have hope that I will be happy. I have hope for my future and hope for now. Even though I have endured tragedy, I have regained hope.