Scar Tissue | 30.) Leash

My therapist let those four letters roll right off her tongue. PTSD.

I mean, I knew. I know. Any middle aged white male that even remotely resembled my ex-slumlord would steal the breath right out of my mouth.

Panic attacks on local bus routes and week-long depressive episodes with a tendency to rerun. Yeah, I know.

“Intrusive thoughts”. Nightmares. Lots of nightmares.

I left the shelter, but I haven’t left the shelter. I’m still there. How long will I be here? I guess it greatly depends on how consistent I can be with my appointments.

Homelessness is a threat that follows me everywhere I go.

I spent months trying to reel myself in, and I think I’m mostly all here. Five fingers, five toes.

But, how do I chunk the trauma? How do I keep the memory, but leave the pain behind?

Perhaps they’re not chains anymore. But what if the leash never disappears?

 

 

 

#SCARTISSUEPROJECT IS A MEMOIR ABOUT SURVIVING HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT ME, SCAR TISSUE, OR MY BLOG, PLEASE CONSIDER LEAVING A TIP! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
FOR THE LAST TEN MONTHS, WE HAVE BEEN NAVIGATING THE NEW YORK CITY SHELTER SYSTEM. FROM MANHATTAN TO QUEENS, BACK TO MANHATTAN, AND FINALLY, TO BROOKLYN. WE’VE BEEN ALL OVER THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY.
EIGHT MONTHS PRIOR, WE STEPPED FOOT IN A COURTROOM. WE SPENT MOST OF 2017 FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL – A RENT OVERCHARGE AND NEGLECTED REPAIRS. IT’S UNBELIEVABLE HOW MUCH A LANDLORD, A SINGLE PERSON, CAN CAUSE THIS MUCH PAIN IN A PERSON’S LIFE. IT’S SCARY HOW QUICKLY OUR LIVES CAN FALL APART AT THE HAND’S OF ANOTHER.
I HAVE COLLECTED NEARLY 100,000 WORDS DOCUMENTING OUR JOURNEY. IN SCAR TISSUE, I WILL SHARE WITH YOU PIECES OF MY COLLECTION.
© 2018 JOCELYN FIGUEROA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED “SCAR TISSUE”
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Scar Tissue | 29.) Cleanse

The rain came.
Always, right on time.
Always, a downpour.
A cleanse.
A drowning.
A deafening sound.
A rising tide.
A sinking.

Uniformed men march up six flights of stairs.

In perfect sync, a mass of great force, serving and protecting, laced with tyranny,

Tightly laced boots, a badge,

A distaste for the poor,
the lonely
and the downtrodden,

the fatherless,
the afflicted,
and the needy.

Pounding on fragile doors. With clenched fists in sync,

the floors rumble.

But I,
not I,
I am not here.

I am someplace else.

I am high again.
I am sinking into a mattress,
on the floor.

Boots to floor.
Fists to door.

And it doesn’t matter.
It matters not at all.
Because here comes the rain.

Always arriving just on time.

 

 

 

#SCARTISSUEPROJECT IS A MEMOIR ABOUT SURVIVING HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT ME, SCAR TISSUE, OR MY BLOG, PLEASE CONSIDER LEAVING A TIP! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
FOR THE LAST TEN MONTHS, WE HAVE BEEN NAVIGATING THE NEW YORK CITY SHELTER SYSTEM. FROM MANHATTAN TO QUEENS, BACK TO MANHATTAN, AND FINALLY, TO BROOKLYN. WE’VE BEEN ALL OVER THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY.
EIGHT MONTHS PRIOR, WE STEPPED FOOT IN A COURTROOM. WE SPENT MOST OF 2017 FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL – A RENT OVERCHARGE AND NEGLECTED REPAIRS. IT’S UNBELIEVABLE HOW MUCH A LANDLORD, A SINGLE PERSON, CAN CAUSE THIS MUCH PAIN IN A PERSON’S LIFE. IT’S SCARY HOW QUICKLY OUR LIVES CAN FALL APART AT THE HAND’S OF ANOTHER.
I HAVE COLLECTED NEARLY 100,000 WORDS DOCUMENTING OUR JOURNEY. IN SCAR TISSUE, I WILL SHARE WITH YOU PIECES OF MY COLLECTION.
© 2018 JOCELYN FIGUEROA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED “SCAR TISSUE”

Scar Tissue | 28.) Ajax

I threw all of my weight against the bathroom door. Perhaps this is why my left shoulder is always tender.

At night, we like to keep that door shut tight.

You wouldn’t want to wake up to a surprise — empty cans and plastic bottles floating in the tank behind the toilet, used syringes on the window sill, and the occasional full tampon, not always filled with menstrual blood, on the bathroom floor.

Or a person. Or two.

Best case scenario, it’s just one person.

They’re conscious, sitting on the toilet, quite alarmed, really, wondering why you’ve barged into the bathroom while they’re trying to take a shit.

Sure beats being mistaken as the girl delivering the heroin.

Or, my personal favorites:

$4 Blow Job at 4 AM

8 cigarettes for 8 minutes

“Do you have a knife I can borrow?”

Today, though, it’s no one. There’s Ajax sprinkled in the tub.

I pee and go back to bed.

#SCARTISSUEPROJECT IS A MEMOIR ABOUT SURVIVING HOMELESSNESS IN NEW YORK CITY. IF YOU’D LIKE TO SUPPORT ME, SCAR TISSUE, OR MY BLOG, PLEASE CONSIDER LEAVING A TIP! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
FOR THE LAST TEN MONTHS, WE HAVE BEEN NAVIGATING THE NEW YORK CITY SHELTER SYSTEM. FROM MANHATTAN TO QUEENS, BACK TO MANHATTAN, AND FINALLY, TO BROOKLYN. WE’VE BEEN ALL OVER THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY.
EIGHT MONTHS PRIOR, WE STEPPED FOOT IN A COURTROOM. WE SPENT MOST OF 2017 FIGHTING TOOTH AND NAIL – A RENT OVERCHARGE AND NEGLECTED REPAIRS. IT’S UNBELIEVABLE HOW MUCH A LANDLORD, A SINGLE PERSON, CAN CAUSE THIS MUCH PAIN IN A PERSON’S LIFE. IT’S SCARY HOW QUICKLY OUR LIVES CAN FALL APART AT THE HAND’S OF ANOTHER.
I HAVE COLLECTED NEARLY 100,000 WORDS DOCUMENTING OUR JOURNEY. IN SCAR TISSUE, I WILL SHARE WITH YOU PIECES OF MY COLLECTION.
© 2018 JOCELYN FIGUEROA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED “SCAR TISSUE”

Scar Tissue | 27.) Transition

My social worker looks up at us through the rear-view mirror, “I wish all my clients were like y’all.”

Supposedly, right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. It’s been happening to me. A lot, actually. God, I hope we don’t get into a car accident. How sad would that be?

Seems unlikely that God would be that much of a sadistic asshole, though. Considering the turn of events, at least. But what do I know.

“I think we just got lucky.” I replied.

“This ain’t luck. It’s hard work. I wish my other clients could see that. You actually put the work in and it paid off. You didn’t wait around for me to do everything for you. That’s more than I could say for anyone else.”

“Well, to be fair, our broker did most of the hard work. For 3 months.”

“None of my other clients would have even thought of getting a broker — much less look for their own apartment. Most won’t do anything at all. They’ll just wait for *NYCHA; as long as it takes, even if it takes 5 years. You don’t have 5 years to wait, though, do you? I didn’t think so.”

“I think no one has a broker because no one has an extra month’s rent to pay for a broker. What broker is going to want to help the homeless anyway? They know we don’t have money. They know we’re a risk — a liability. I just think ours hadn’t made a commission in a long time and really needed the money.”

I really shouldn’t say that about Jay.
God, if I got hit by a car right now, well, it’d know why.

Imagine if we hadn’t come along. My broker could have been me. We could have casually switched spots like that.

“Trust me”, he continues, “they aren’t even thinking about the first month, or the security deposit, or any of this other stuff you’re telling me.”

Imagine your biggest cheerleader isn’t actually cheering for you.

“I’ll tell you what — I’m glad for it. Y’all make me look good.”

Of course, Thomas doesn’t hear any of this.

He’s got his earphones in.

He’s ready to be on to the next chapter.

Believe me, I am too.

 

 

*NYCHA: New York City Housing Authority, public housing

 

Author’s Note:

Hi all. I guess my extended vacation got cut short.

I don’t know what to say here. Just that I’m probably going to start pointing fingers.

 

 

#ScarTissueProject is a memoir about surviving homelessness in New York City. If you’d like to support me, Scar Tissue, or my blog, please consider leaving a tip! Thank you so much for your support!
For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city.
Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another.
I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 26.) Season

There I was, in Dollar Tree, standing in front of the most magnificent Fall display. It was only the first week of August and I was already admiring that inappropriately timed seasonal decor.

I was enjoying normalcy.

I was making the important decision between glitter pumpkin magnets and the more chic pastel tone maple leaves. I wanted them both. I wanted them all.

I liked to think of my apartment as a space in which I could eventually carve into a home.

I liked to think I could settle here.

That I’d allow this place to bring me comfort.

That I would just trust God for a moment.

That I would stop being so angry for a moment.

That I’d allow myself to rest here.

That, at the end of the night, I’d leave my heart on the dresser before crawling into bed.

Last Halloween, I put these string lights and glittery bat stickers around our cheap metal bed frame. Not even a week later, in the middle of a random shelter inspection, I was asked to take them down.

Now, no one can tell me to take down my pumpkin magnets.

Theoretically, I could cover every inch of my entire fridge in pumpkin magnets. Sure, it might be a waste of money. Sure, it might look silly. Hell, these cheapo magnets might fly off the front of the fridge as I jerk the freezer door open — but shit, I would not lose my home over a stupid fucking magnet.

So, yeah. I bought them.

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note:

I just want to take a moment to tell you how grateful I am to all of you.

Each and every reader.

Each and every comment.

Thank you for taking a walk with me. Thank you for staying a while. Thank you for showing me so much grace.

And, with that, I am going to part with Scar Tissue for a while.

With each chapter I write, I feel it harder and harder to move on. Reliving these moments is so very emotionally taxing on me. Perhaps writing about the past keeps me there.

I’m not abandoning the project, just making room for more.

I need to give myself a chance. I deserve a chance to heal and move on.

Love to you all.

 

 

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city.
Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another.
I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 25.) Lost

A few things I’ve lost to homelessness:

Hope for the future.
Everything I’ve built; the results of hard work.
The manuscript of the first book I wrote.
My cat.
A soft beating heart.
Photographs.
A quilt my Grandmother sown for our first wedding anniversary.
Dozens of filled journals.
Sketches.
Textbooks.
Poetry.
Canvas art procured from an overflowing dumpster the first week we arrived in NYC.
My love and adoration for NYC.
My faith in humanity.
Respect for authority.
Respect for laws.
Respect for landlords.
A taste for life.
An interest in living.
Birthday cards.
Letters.
Every research paper I’ve ever written, and each draft destroyed by red pencil.
Sanity.
Comfort.
Myself.

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city.
Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another.
I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”

Scar Tissue | 24.) Ceremony

My wedding dress was measured, sown, and shipped – just a week before our impromptu wedding in Central Park.

I wonder what the chances are that my wedding dress is now ripped, torn, and sitting in a landfill. We only had enough room left in our duffel bag for either a blanket or my wedding dress. I left my dress, as it, in a garment bag, in the closet, when the sheriffs came.

I wonder if my wedding dress made it’s way to a Salvation Army. Another girl, in another world, recites vows to her lover, in which the universe designed just for her.

A moment of love now stolen by cruelty.

Sometimes I have these bouts of rage. Fury arrives in my fist, before slamming down on this $35 desk, that I type this chapter from, that I ordered from Amazon, just a few days after moving in. It’s unusual to be this angry on an anniversary. A wedding anniversary, of all anniversaries.

I’ve been housed for 6 months. There’s an anniversary. Homeless for almost a year. No anniversary there. No ceremony.

Those 10 months felt like 10 years, you know? These 6 months felt like 6 days.

The front door creaks,
despite it’s sturdy hinges.
In the doorway, there is a mirror,
still, with that stranger staring back at me.

I tell her,
you are no longer wandering corridors,
you are no longer a ghost,

in a body,
haunting your present.

Come back,
I plead.

But she runs away again.

 

 

 

For the last ten months, we have been navigating the New York City shelter system.  From Manhattan to Queens, back to Manhattan, and finally, to Brooklyn. We’ve been all over this beautiful city.
Eight months prior, we stepped foot in a courtroom. We spent most of 2017 fighting tooth and nail – a rent overcharge and neglected repairs. It’s unbelievable how much a landlord, a single person, can cause this much pain in a person’s life. It’s scary how quickly our lives can fall apart at the hand’s of another.
I have collected nearly 100,000 words documenting our journey. In Scar Tissue, I will share with you pieces of my collection.
© 2018 Jocelyn Figueroa All Rights Reserved “Scar Tissue”