The shopkeeper began yelling, “Get outta here, you bum!” It was fall in New York City and a cold front had just passed over the night before. I grabbed the grocery bag that held all my belongings; an Old Navy hoody, a crumpled water bottle, a flute, a half eaten sandwich that a kind person gave me the day before and my sole source of income, a cup with spare change. I was wearing the tattered sweater I picked up along the way. I longed for the day that I had a warm bed and something to quell my noisy stomach.
As I rushed back to the night where it all started, the night my world collapsed. There we were sitting at the dinner table. My foster parents and I eating a delicious home cooked meal. We were eating salmon burgers with steamy mashed potatoes, and talking about our day. I mentioned how all of my friends were talking about going to college, I knew I didn’t have the grades to even graduate, let alone the money to go. My parents mentioned they needed to discuss something serious. My dad had lost his job and we were going to have to move back to Idaho, away from my friends. The rest of the meal felt like I was floating in a cloud, I was in shock. After dinner, I immediately went up to my room and filled a bag with my belongings and waited for my parents to fall asleep.
My stomach was growling, like a hungry lion. I pulled out my flute from the Acme grocery bag and began to play harmonious tunes from my childhood that gave me joy. As I waited, the sun popped out to warm the slight chill in the air. Morning rush hour brought commuters as the sound of spare coins clinked in my cup. I was a freshly turned 19, so I got more money than most because I was less homeless looking with a kind face. After about 4 hours I had collected $12, which was enough to get one decent meal. I wouldn’t go hungry today. The sun disappeared and as I began to pack up, a kind teenager handed me a bowl of hot soup, and his jacket. I thanked him so many times and sat there with a smile thinking… our future was in good hands. Tonight I would be warm with a full stomach again.
I cannot even begin to imagine what being homeless feels like. No teenager should have to experience a life like the one above, so join Threads of Care: “Where teens give hope to teens one thread at a time.” Olivia