the long walk home 12

Nell has a dream.

Dreams can be dangerous.

It’s so easy to be misled when you’re dreaming.

Nell’s dream is of healing. She receives disability. She wants to secure affordable housing in a nice place and nice neighborhood with amenities close by. Things like a laundromat, a gym, a supermarket, etc. And maybe a nice cafe where she can treat herself once in awhile to a rich hot chocolate. Some place close enough to the city and near a subway so she can see her therapist and doctors easily.

She’s ready for that next step. A small, cozy place of security and comfort, regular exercise, healthy eating, mental and physical recovery. She’s been ready for the past ten years, navigating the bizarre shelter system … waiting for her dream.

Do you know how this goes? Raise your hand if you do.

I had a conversation with her once about how I used to compartmentalize things. Like, I might have a series of boyfriends who hit me, but instead of seeing the pattern of abuse, I would treat each episode as something different and unique. My next thought was that as soon as I saw a pattern, I saw a connection, and from there … and that thought was interrupted by Nell trilling something like, each episode was different.

Nell’s not going to make it.

I was floored when she said that. (She’s technically accurate; that’s the scary part.) In that moment I saw the fundamental flaw which had her (at that time) about seven years into system that was slowly and methodically killing her. And that she was going to keep going down that road, like a mule following a carrot on a string.

I wonder if part of it was that, in the act of acknowledging a pattern, she would then start connecting the dots, and that might necessitate re-defining the dream. Sometimes even the willingness to redefine a dream can seem as if one is giving up on it. Is it that it seems so much easier to rely on a non-working system — even when you’re being taken far off course — than it is to create your life yourself?

26. October 2014 by sojourner hardeman
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