I have not written about what lays beyond my window for a while. I don’t want to look. Outside continues its downward slide into degradation and danger. I pull the covers over my head as the sounds of fighting, glass breaking, metal scraping, screaming and suffering bounce off the walls of the apartment. The whole room shakes as two men slam into the lower wall, engaged in some meaningless battle. I hear nothing. I see nothing. I say nothing. I just try to survive my last few days in the ‘Loin.
I don’t walk south down the blocks of the ‘Loin for any reason. I try and stay away from Civic Center. It has simply got too dangerous. My block has gone through periods of utter filth. I call the City, report the need for clean up, and keep the windows closed. I have been mouse fighting, as the outside came in. The mouse is dead. Walked into a trap backwards and held its little paws up to me for mercy. I offered him no kill traps and a trip to the park, but he never went for it, and he simply could not shit over my apartment and eat my garden any longer. He would scurry around, running over my feet. The stress caused by one little mouse was off the charts. Ding dong the mouse is dead. Long live peace and quiet and no shit on the floors. I am moving anyway. Early next week I am out of here, moving out to the burbs where people don’t seem to shout or fight or shoot drugs in the gutter or piss up the wall of the apartment building, at least not to the extent that happens here.
The City seems to have given up on the ‘Loin and those that suffer in it. It has not given up in the outer areas. I got very blessed. I am not even going to say ‘lucky’ though that too, I suppose. I will still be in San Francisco, but in the outer reaches, in suburbia where the families live and the ocean laps against the shoreline.
Outside my window everything is grey. Everything has bleached out into a morass of depression and clouds and fog. Summer is trying to fight through the fog in its typical September way in the Bay. Today it is failing and I am shivering once again. The best thing about San Francisco is the weather. It is truly temperate, but pleasant just feels like cold in this part of town.
Walking up that hill, heading past parks and through parts of town that have not given up nor been given up on, walking over to my new home on the top floor of a newer apartment block, cane in hand, trying to remember to lift my legs up high enough so I don’t stumble, I stopped a moment and stared at the sea. I have come so very far even since I came to San Francisco a couple of years ago, when I started this blog while living in a homeless shelter during the pandemic. If I look back further – to running for my life from Tokyo, and further again, I have walked so many thousands of miles. I have come so far from where I started and still I exist. Or at least I have not disintegrated yet.
I feel as if I am walking a tightrope in this life. I picked a hard path, but one with great rewards. I know the value of love. I know the power of suffering. I know the meaningless of possessions but the necessity of the basics of living. I know it is possible to hold on when your body and mind and soul are trying to break into tiny pieces. I know that costs everything you have and then some.
Still. I have some more time. I perhaps have gathered enough to see the Boy into adulthood. I perhaps wil get to see him go to his first day at work, earn his first check, join the other souls who pull this world forward as a team, as a species, towards an uncertain future. Perhaps I will get to hold a grandbaby in my arms. Perhaps I will draw my last breath in this world and might be able to say, I did my best. That I loved and was loved. Perhaps I might have learnt a thing or two. Perhaps in the beyond, there will be waiting for me, with open arms, those I love and those I forgot but the love remains.
I have to get back to packing boxes and dealing with moving from this place to that. Some peace is calling me. I have seen enough suffering, and though I will never run from it, I need some respite from the pain. I need somewhere safe to try and survive a while longer, while this terrible autoimmune disease tries to take me down and out. I cough up blood, seeing the sink turn red. My joints are deformed and I am in pain all the time. Yes. I think I can just about manage to pack up an apartment and move it west, just about as far west as it will go, and see if I can find my place in peace and quiet, and try try try to fit in where the quiet people go.
The situation here on the streets for people with opiate addiction is not survivable. Between fentanyl, tranq and the violence of the scene, people cannot possibly survive it. That is not compassion, it is social engineering. Something needs to be done to help people survive, instead of giving up. The war on drugs is lost – it always seems to get into the market. Instead the pragmatic thing to do would be to remove the demand for illegal drugs by setting up a safe supply system. Then we might see more people recovering, more people surviving, more people returning to productive society. Perhaps then we would see more action towards the positive, instead of this reaction to the negative.
Outside a small female is passed out face into the sidewalk. A drunk man pisses against the wall. The street is overrun with filth. The air smells rancid. Sirens show that someone cares. Perhaps. But cares too late to make a difference. In the distance another fight has broken out. That fight is not mine. I have my own fights, and they are much less bothersome to others, at least I hope they are. Can I possibly hold my head up high in the ‘burbs? I am a downtown grrrl. I am a guttersnipe gone good. But even guttersnipes get tired of ducking when the sound of bullets and thrown fireworks punctuate the night. Even guttersnipes need to open a window, breathe and walk somewhat safely down the street. I wonder when or if the harm reduction center will re-open or if the powers that be are simply waiting for the problem to resolve itself with death.
See you all on the other side of the move.