Almost within the same instant, I am paralyzed, I can't move or breathe, and an overload of anxiety begins to fill every fiber of my being. Reality sets in and I am suddenly all too aware that I am under a bridge and surrounded by cold concrete ringed with the piercing smells of asphalt and urine.
There were always moments like this, moments where I'd have to remind myself where I was and who I'd become. My mind seemed to be going through this process of rejecting its surroundings -- unable to fully accept the present -- I would constantly find myself lost in vivid memories of my past as if my psyche was trying to remind me of who I was, and then within the same breath, I'd feel the harsh pangs of depression arise as I remembered my reality.
I was homeless, forgotten, abandoned, and alone. A product of the Texas foster care system, I had no one.
My life was reduced to two pairs of cloths, a well-worn backpack, and the streets. By day, I begged strangers for their change; and by night, I was turning tricks for a place to stay, a shower, a hot meal, or whatever resources I could trade my body for.
That was my reality.