Back In Oakland

I’m back in these streets, and for some reason everything feels like ashes beneath my feet.

It felt easier to be someone else in a different city, someone new, someone without a name, without a face, without a story, without a reputation. I could be anyone I wanted as soon as I opened my mouth. I chose to be myself. And that was the right decision because for some reason when I’m far away from here, being me is no crime.

But I am back here, and I am still me, and for some reason while I’m confined to this city it feels like being me is an affront to everyone here. Like I am the disease they are hoping will leave, but I also know that when I was gone nothing here got better.

Perhaps we are all the disease.

I am still not leaving, no matter how much you want me to, because this is my home even when it’s on fire. This is my home even as everyone stands arm in arm, calling me the enemy. This is my home, but far away felt good in a way that home hasn’t felt in a long, long time. Running away from home felt like a beautiful solution. Being back here is a burden.

They have stopped writing New York Times articles about why this is the coolest new place to live in America. Some other wretched city with wailing natives is under that crux now. Us? We are washed up and we no longer even want ourselves. I wonder who we will be when this feeling passes, because I will still be here, gnashing my teeth and waiting for God. Who will I be after what this city has done to me.