This will undoubtedly be a more difficult post for me to write than the two more wild posts that have preceded it. What has been happening is that I have been coming to terms with how severely my personal issues of the past six months have completely interfered with the discipline I need to move forward with my larger creative projects.
When I first moved into the Friendship Apartments on July 27th of last year, it seemed an incredible godsend. This was especially the case when compared with my previous “place of residence.” I had been on the streets for three years consistently in Berkeley prior to that, and for twelve years I had been homeless off-and-on in Berkeley and other towns. That a trustworthy landlord even appeared who would trust me with a one-year lease on an apartment was remarkable. So I cannot claim that Friendship Square has not been a blessing of tremendous magnitude.
However, something began to change within me, maybe not exactly on March 4th, when I reached the “pinnacle” described in the previous entry, but in a gradual way following that date. Whereas before, my studio apartment had been a place of refuge and solitude, it gradually became on open door to all the social activities I eventually found among those who also took up residence in the Friendship Apartments. I’m not sure how to describe what happened to me, other than to say that my loneliness eventually superseded my aloneness.
The blessing of aloneness had been in solitude, seclusion, and sanctuary. I found creative asylum in aloneness, and I proceeded with the Berkeley Music and the Babylon Script with a disciplined fury, only taking Sundays off from my writing. Slowly, however, the blessing of solitude was transformed into a curse of loneliness. I began to interact with whoever happened to be nearby, often another lonely person like myself. I honestly think I did not even realize that I was lonely. I doubt that many of the other men in my building were in touch with their loneliness either. It isn’t easy, after all, for a man to admit that he has such feelings.
Before I knew it, I had befriended every man, and most of the women, in the Friendship Apartments. It seemed they were called the “Friendship Apartments” for a reason. Much reveling took place. I would sometimes wake up in the morning wondering what I had done with myself. (At this point, I am certain I need say no more.)
My pastor at my church had become concerned, along with those few members of the community whom I had truly befriended, including Young Paul down at the Bagel Shop. We were all decidedly looking for a new and better place for me to stay, even as I was clinging to the model of Friendship Square as the answer to years of prayers I prayed on the streets, praying only that God would grant me “a window, a lock on the door, and a power outlet.” After being homeless for so long, I was convinced that this was all I would need to be happy.
I got on a list for subsidized Senior housing. Then, just yesterday, something came up. It’s a two bedroom apartment, actually, for only $318/mo. It’s in a good area, near Paradise Path where I run, and near the Safeway at the East Side Mall. It’s off the beaten trail of the student partying at the Main Street pubs, as well as the more insidious, invisible “tweaker” scene that lurks menacingly all around the current block. It isn’t at all a certainty yet, but I feel a real hope about this option. Also, if it falls through, Young Paul has offered to let me take over the lease on his one-bedroom apartment (also in an excellent location) as soon as he and a roommate move into their two-bedroom. So it seems fail-safe.
If any of you are the praying types, please pray about this. I believe that, while it may not exactly “solve” my problems, it will put me in an environment much more conducive to their being solved. And in any case, I awoke this morning feeling that some unweildy burden had been lifted from me overnight. I am no longer so “wild,” nor have I been contemplating the unfeasible. It is entirely possible that, the next time you hear from me, I will be standing on higher, more fertile, ground.
“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”