Alrighty then, where were we? Ah, yes…I had just discovered the ‘transitional housing’ by the train station. I ended up only staying there one night, thankfully – those cots weren’t that comfortable. Everyone that stays there has to do some sort of an intake interview with someone who works there, and I was no exception. When they found out I was under 21, they told me that there was a youth shelter on the other side of downtown. (I had, by this point, discovered that Portland was not really a ‘quaint little town’, but an actual city, and a fairly nice one at that.) They said I could stay there that night, but I should head over there the next day.
There were lots of people staying at this shelter. Many of them were kinda scary. Some of them seemed really nice though, just down on their luck – much like myself. One in particular I found to be somewhat interesting, as he carried a guitar around with him. I, of course, decided to strike up a conversation with him. I was an artiste, you remember. So we got to talking. I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but I’ll never forget the things he told me. He showed me around town a bit, bought me (a very meager) lunch, and was just generally terrifically nice to me. We both layed out our life stories, or particularly the part of our lives that brought us to our shared situation. He was quite a bit older than me, probably in his mid to late 30’s. It’s amazing how quickly you form bonds with people when your circumstances are less than desirable.
When I had told him how I ended up homeless in a strange town, and that I was going to head to West Virginia, he told me something I’ll never forget:
“So you’re just going to run away again?”
I remember that that statement hit me like a brick in the gut. I’d never looked at my actions in that light, but once that light came on, it blinded me. That’s exactly what I was doing. Running away from my responsibilities, running away from facing not just the things I had to do, but facing my life. It was past time that I took control of my life, and made it happen, instead of just going with wherever it took me.
He also said to me “You know, Portland isn’t such a bad place. It’s a good place to make a stand, to start your life, to make things happen for you.”
So I did. It took me a while, but I did it. I made my stand, and I named Portland my home. There were times when I almost moved away, went back home, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I love this place, and the experiences I’ve had here – good and bad. And right now, I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.