Most of us take some time around the Thanksgiving holiday to really think about what we are grateful for. It’s something that I like to do as well, but this year I am having trouble.
I moved back to the Doylestown area after living in New York for two years. I was happy to return. To be home. But for the past year, I haven’t felt home. At all. And most of us seek solace in having a safe place to fall asleep, a place to call our own, a home.
October 2013. My first apartment. I didn’t have a sink that drained when cooking my Thanksgiving dinner, and I washed dishes in my tub for months. Bills that were out of my control went unpaid, and I often went without heat in the dead of winter for days. There were mice. There were fleas. On one of my last mornings there, the water was shut off. It frightened me. I didn’t feel safe.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to move, and I signed a lease for a new apartment.
October 2014. My second apartment. The previous tenant left an unbelievable mess and a smashed window. My move was delayed for cleaning. The night before I moved in, I went to check on the clean-up progress; nothing had changed. I scrubbed the filthy floor. I picked up shards of glass and tacked cardboard over the missing window. I moved in. Two weeks later, my apartment was put up for sale without my knowledge. It was shown without any notice. Imagine waking up to strangers in your pajamas.
So, at a time when I want to feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, I am instead filled with anger.
But perhaps there is gratitude buried in that anger – that I am even able to feel angry is a gift. I am able to feel the depth and breadth of this anger because I can remember a time when I felt at home. I remember the luxury of feeling safe. And this is not a reality for many Bucks County residents. For victims of domestic violence and their children, home cannot be equated with a safe place or a respite from all the world slings at them.
So, this year, I accept that I feel angry. Because this year, though I really struggle to accept it, there are men, women, and children in our county who don’t feel safe in their own homes.
However, they say that change is inevitable. I can’t help but cultivate a bit of hope inside of me for next year – that I will be in a better place and able to embrace gratitude fully, and that some who spent this year in danger and distress will be truly at home and truly safe.
Anonymous by request