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It is dark and 1 am and the cat is sneezing somewhere in the kitchen. The blinds are slightly open and I keep seeing this ghost of light fly from the top of the doorframe to the ceiling. At first I thought it was the cat but then I realized there’s nothing there to jump on.

It’s 1 am and there’s still traffic outside; there are too many people here so they never sleep and always drive their cars. People are always busy but I never see them get anything done. Everyone says they’re creative or musical but I don’t see it. What the hell are people doing here? I look out the window to see my car parked on the road, taking up whatever piece of cement it can.

I don’t know what people are doing out there, but the blinds are closed now and the cat is sleeping on my pillow. It’s so expensive to live here I don’t think people have time to do anything but work to make money and then use the rest of their time spending their money on things that are easy to buy: fancy cars and expensive clothes and whatever health or food thing is popular. Do people even talk to each other? I don’t know. I’m remembering this one time a grown woman from here recorded herself crying on her laptop and sent it out. I don’t think that’s the way to deal with sadness but maybe it’s the easiest way. If you send picture proof you don’t have to talk about it or think about it after you push a button.

It is not worse or better here than elsewhere, not yet. It is almost December and the tourists still come to take pictures of the palm trees. The palm trees are still lovely. And now they are covered with lights and giant decorative snowflakes hang down from them in a place where it never snows.

I am almost in tears standing in the cereal aisle staring at the price tags on the granola bars. Three dollars. Three fucking dollars. I grab a box and tuck it into my basket, because everyone needs snacks. Even me, even for three dollars.

Wandering around the store, and out of it, I wonder what everyone does for a living. I want to ask them, I want to walk up to them and say, ‘excuse me, I see you’re looking very well put together, how do you manage to make money in this city?’

I don’t do it, but I keep thinking it, keep wondering. On my walk home I pass a cardboard sign that someone has taped to a streetlight. It is large and written with black marker. It says, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Some homeless man took the time, and the ink from his marker, to write this and post it up for all of us people walking by to see. 

Walking home with my granola bars stuffed into my backpack, I nervously spin my phone in circles in my hand. I need a job. I need a job. I need a job. There are so many stories of people who went to a city almost penniless and made it. But how did they make it? How do I make it? There are so many people here. There are so many people walking with me, crossing streets, running, biking, rolling along on their skateboards. Driving. They all have a place. There must be a place for me. I have to be able to contribute to this. It’s been a week of looking. A week. I can’t tell if a week is forever or no time at all. It feels like both. My phone spins in my hand as I turn the corner.

The street I’m staying on is nice. Somehow there is always parking, even in the middle of Los Angeles, and there are trees and plants along the sidewalk. A lovely place to walk, and a lovely place to be. There’s this huge, leafy palm plant that catches my eye as I walk toward it. It’s very green and calming somehow, just sitting there, growing. The trees are pushing up the sidewalks as we walk on them, going wherever it is we’re going.

I feel a little bad for being afraid or being worried, because I’m fine, really. I have friends to help me, and a family who cares about me, even if they are across the country. I have plenty of access to cardboard and markers. I have a roof to sleep under. I have time. I have some kind of place already. I have granola bars. But I no longer have that three dollars.

 

A few days ago I woke up and somehow almost immediately decided that a good way to become a more active Instagram-er would be to take one picture every hour — sort of a documentary of a day in my life, in pictures. It went well… for a few hours, anyway.

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“8am #adayinpics”

A hotter-than-normal Michigan summer morning, therefore, fan on full speed.

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“9am #adayinpics”

Eggs for breakfast with the morning email scan-through.

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“10am #adayinpics”

Tiny potted plant gardening.

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“11am #adayinpics”

Running work errands, sweating profusely, examining the beautiful city I live in.

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“12pm #adayinpics”

Heading back home, stopping to admire the potential of a once-abandoned building that’s already being realized.

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“1pm #adayinpics #resume”

Working on my resume, attempting to create an image of myself on paper that shows my own potential.

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“4pm #adayinpics #walden”

A resume rest and Walden in the living room.

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“6pm #adayinpics #naptime #hidinginsidethehorribleweather”

Finally retreating back to the relative comfort of my bedroom and box fan.

follow me on Instagram: @ohnewfree

There are a lot of really amazing people in the world. There really are. A lot of the time I think that I forget that fact. Maybe you do, too. Sometimes these people are hard to see, hard to find. Most of the people I interact with on a daily basis seem simply ordinary. So many of them – ordinary folk. That’s fine, being ordinary, if that’s what you’re in to. I’m just, well, not. Why live a simple life? Why not do amazing things, see amazing things, be amazing?

I’ve recently started my senior year of Undergraduate school. So recently, in fact, that today is my second day of classes. Fall semester, 2012. Back to school!

I love college. I wasn’t so hot on High School. It is just so different, so restricted. So scheduled. Perhaps: so ordinary. Now, though, I’m a college student, and I love it. Walking from the parking lot to my classroom on the first day back, I found myself grinning. I love this place. I love these people. These people who are striving to be more than ordinary. Who would struggle through college classes in order to better themselves and their lives. Who would pay thousands of dollars just for the chance to become a higher-educated human being.

Students are more than simply students, though. They are minds. They are amazing. They have something to say, something to give. They are people who are excited about their lives and the future. They have dreams, plans, ideas, goals.

This fact, too, can be easy to forget. Another college student is just another college student. My campus is relatively small, yet thousands of students attend classes here. Thousands of creative, interested, willing, capable minds. We come to learn from professors and end up learning from each other, too. We learn math, yes, and science, yes, and French, and how to write in MLA format, and not to text in class, and that our professors really like when we participate, and that the bathroom on the second floor of the English building is always empty, and we learn not to get to class too early, and that staircases really are the better choice, and that not holding a door for someone when they are really far away is OK. We also learn about the people in our communities. We learn about their lives. We see how similar they are to us. We feel togetherness. We feel not-so-ordinary.

Today I was reading through some early submissions that were received by the creative writing magazine I work for at my school. There were only five – I’m sure there are many more to come. I love reading the poems and stories that come from fellow students. I read them anonymously – I have no idea who wrote these pieces – male, female; student, staff, teacher; old, young; black, white. And so, I am amazed. The submissions were good. All poems. All different. Not so ordinary.

The poems were all about different things – crumbling cities, religion, the media, girls, dirt. The poems were good, but it was the realization that I came to from reading them that made me stop, actually teary-eyed, and think. Think that there are a lot of amazing people in this world. That they are hard to see, sometimes. That we forget about them, that they exist. That they are living with us, mixed in with all the ordinary people. We are all living our lives together.