The old apartment building stands before me, a place of memories soon to be gone. I watch the hustle and bustle of the people going by, not paying any mind to me. This once apartment building full of families, is now deemed unfit to live in.
I let out a sigh, and gathered my few sparse items. I made my way to an abandoned building, a few blocks from the apartments. This area was known as the filth row. A place where the homeless go to set up shop. It’s sad that at the age of thirty, I am not even the youngest here. I give a small smile as I pass some of the regulars I know. My spot is just a couple of large cardboard boxes I found, and an old tattered blanket. I dig around my stuff till I find a brush, with a broken handle, of course. My long, matted, brown hair is always a mess. I clean up the best I can before I turn in for the night. My stomach growls softly as I slip off to sleep.
Grandma, I yelled, I’m here as I ran through the apartment laughing. The smell of some delicious meal already in the oven. I can hear my parents talking softly, and the sound of a tea kettle going off. “Sarah, come hear my child,” she calls. My grandmother picks me up and embraces me in a tight hug.
My eyes pop open, tears already falling down my cheeks. Just another dream of a time long gone. My parents had died, not long after that day, from a car accident, when I was only eight years old. My grandmother had raised me in that apartment, till I was able to move out on my own. She passed away, it’s been three years now. My memories are all I have left of them. I wiped my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but my mind wasn’t having it. It amazes me how one minute you have a job and a place, the next you're unemployed and homeless. People often think that the homeless are just lazy, and don’t want to work. What they don’t realize is, this could happen to anyone, at any time. I shake my head, trying to not think about all that. I finally drift back off to sleep.
The sunlight is a welcoming wake up call, the warmth on my face. Today is Friday, and it is the day that I have been dreading. The apartment building is scheduled for demolition at five o'clock. The place where so many of my joyous memories were, will now be gone. I used to sleep behind that very building, just so I could be close to my old home. Today I am planning on checking the back dumpster again, maybe something good will be thrown away from there. But, first the soup kitchen for a small breakfast, if I’m lucky.
The kitchen was short again today, so I was lucky to get my one little granola bar. I sighed and hoped this would hold me over till I could check behind a few restaurants. I first wanted to check the apartments. The dumpster actually had a few more items than it had previously. I can’t keep the smile from my face, as I pull out an old quilt. My grandmother used to have one on her bed, obviously this isn’t that one, but It was perfect. I also found a few sheets and a couple of blankets, even a small doll. I needed to take these back to my spot before I could go looking for more food.
I see little Lucy by her mom on their makeshift bed. I greeted them and handed them the extra blanket and sheets. The look on Lucy’s face when I handed her the doll was priceless. Her mother had tears in her eyes as she thanked me. I had to turn away so they wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes as well. This little family, I always try to help when I have any extra. Which is why I needed to go check the restaurants because I know they are hungry as well.
By mid day, I had already sat and begged for change for a couple of hours. I had a total of four dollars and twenty- one cents. I couldn’t sit any longer and headed behind Mr. Gatti’s, this pizza place. I found some decent half eaten bread sticks, and made that my lunch. Any extra I found, I wrapped in a plastic bag I found. My next spot to check was a fancy steak restaurant, maybe I’ll get lucky. I rummage through and come across a t bone with meat still stuck to the bone. I would need to cook it to kill any bacteria, but it should be fine. I found some more bread, which is the most common thing that gets thrown out. After seeing that was all I was getting today I headed back to my spot.
I found Lucy and her mother and gave them some of the bread and the steak. I was really looking forward to that meat, but after seeing how Lucy looked like she was losing weight, at only six years old. My heart couldn’t bear the thought, so I made sure they knew to cook it first, and I went to my spot. I layed around for a while, letting my memories keep me company. I see the position of the sun, that it is getting later, I knew It was time.
I found a safe spot so I could witness the demolition. It was interesting watching the workers run around like little ants, trying to make sure everything was in position. I listened to the count down, my heart beating faster with every number. The sound of the charges going off, will forever be embedded in my mind, as I start to tremble. The tears start rolling down my cheeks. My old home is reduced to rubble. Everything I love now gone, with me just standing here with no one to call family. I rub my dirty, shaky hands, trying to calm my nerves. I stare for a long time, even after the workers start to head out. They are to build some big store I’m told, in this location. It’s funny how easy it is for everything to change in a blink of an eye. In a few years, no one will remember this old apartment building, like it never existed.
I straighten my shoulders and stare into the sunset. Sometimes things have to be torn down so better things can come out of it. Maybe this will be the story of my life, fallen and torn down. Maybe my next chapter is just starting and a new life for me is just right around the corner. I decided then that my life is like that building, it is time for me to rebuild on to better things. Goodbye my old home. With a smile on my face, and my head held high, I head back to my spot with a renewed purpose for my life.