I come from humble beginnings. When I say that, I mean, dropped out of high school got my GED and worked 3 jobs to pay my OWN rent at the age of 16 kind of humble beginning. I’d talked the landlord into letting me stay because I was nearly 17 and he didn’t feel like looking for another tenant that had deposit ready in cash. I didn’t believe I’d ever make it out of the constant struggle. Most often, I didn’t even believe I had the ability to. I played the blame game a lot of the time. None of this was a result my own actions I thought. It was because my father died sophomore year. It was because the kids stared at me with wonder and horror after. It was because of comments from my peers like “My mom took your 911 call when you found your dad dead, she said you were like screaming and stuff” on a daily basis that were to blame for my failures. Screaming and stuff was all I could do inside and out at the time. I went from a shiny happy high school class president to a frightened little girl in a big girl world. Actually, that’s not true either. The truth is I was always a scared little girl in a big girl world, but I ran out of places to hide and so now I was emerging for all the world to see.
One day I was sitting in the middle of my bare apartment listening to the rain because my power had been turned off again and that was my only entertainment in the rare moments I actually allowed myself to be alone there. I heard a large bang outside my door and opened it to investigate. I’d never known my neighbor even though she lived across the hall from me. A beautiful brunette woman stood in the shape of a question mark in front of my door attempting to shove her belongings back into an already overloaded paper box. She tossed her hair out of her left eye and peered up at me. She was immaculately dressed like she had a team from Vogue that came over that morning to put her together just so that she could carry heavy boxes beautifully all day and she was, beautiful. It wasn’t so much that she was a particularly blessed woman in the way of her natural appearance, but she just seemed to have it together, even with all of her things falling out of a paper box.
I debated closing my door and allowing her on her way, but instead I said “Do you need any help?”. She flashed a Hollywood smile at me and said “you like name brand purses?” At the time, a “name brand” purse to me was Forever21. So, I said “sure, who doesn’t?” She lifted the box suddenly over her head, pushed passed me and plopped it onto my empty living room floor. “Here”, she said matter of fact, “I just don’t feel like lugging them down the stairs and really I don’t need them, I’m going back to California and their all last season anyway, I mean how embarrassing, right?” I stared at the confident beautiful woman standing in my living room and wondered how she got there. Not how she got to be in the middle of my living room, which was curious enough, but how she got to be so indifferent about throwing a few thousand dollar purses on the living room floor of a strange teenage girl was of particular interest to me. She dusted the rain from her long black fitted rain jacket and looked around my dark empty apartment. “You guys just move in? You and your mom? I haven’t seen you guys, but then again I’m almost never here, since I travel for work. It’s more like a squat spot, you know, like a cheap in between place to sleep now and again.” I didn’t know. I was two months behind on rent and even further behind on utilities and I all I wanted to do was cry to her and yell “no! I’m alone, I’m all alone”.
I guess the awkward staring and silence started to get to her because she began backing away towards the door. She clapped her hands and said “Well, I guess nice to meet you anyway, today’s my last day here. Can’t wait to get out of the rain for good.” I couldn’t find the words, but I wanted to ask her a million questions. All I managed to throw from my lips before she was totally out of site was, “thank you, why are you moving back to California? Did you get a job there?” She smiled down at the floor as if she were remembering a long lost love “no, no job, but sometimes you just got to believe, you know?” I didn’t know. I never saw her again, but from that moment I decided I would go to California too, I wanted to be a part of this wonder. I wanted to want something. I wasn’t sure how at the time, but I decided to “just know” that I would.
Fast forward five years. I’m on the road with a car, a U-Haul and a dog. I had nowhere to live, no job and no plan, but I had a dream and a drive I never knew possible. I thought about the neighbor from years past as I stared down at the now tattered coach purse in my passenger seat. Today I am so thankful that I took that chance. I am so thankful that I chose to believe. The 24 hour and 6 year journey from Seattle to Long Beach to LA to Port Hueneme California has been so rewarding. Once I gave myself permission to believe, I accomplished the unimaginable. I’d chosen not to allow myself to let my faith waver, in whatever endeavor I undertook, and had risen to the challenges in my way. I’m no longer a little girl in a big girl world, I’m the confident neighbor metaphorically dropping name brand purses in your living room. Give a girl a coach bag and she dreams for a day, teach a girl to believe and she dreams for a life time.