Starting over

The scariest thing you could talk a person into is starting over. Over the years I have lost things, misplaced things, things got stolen and so forth, however each time something was taken away a multitude of better things came my way. Let me go back a little bit in my personal life to explain a little more in depth from one of my personally experiences. I once lived in a shelter for homeless women and children from 1998-99 the shelter in was called People's Emergency Center (PEC). The shelter home was in Philadelphia at 39th street and Lancaster ave in West Philly. PEC was newly renovated when I moved in, my God mother Marsha Napper was a case manager there at the time and she helped me transition into the shelter to prepare me for my home which later became the preparation for my future. There were three transitions that took place at PEC, the first transition during admissions is to move on the first floor where there were rooms shared with other women and children. The second transition was to move upstairs to the second floor into my own room and bathroom. The third and final transition was to finally move out into my very own place.

Let me brief you on my first transition...There were bunk beds and single bedding in each room, in my shared room at the end of the hall there where about 5 bunk beds and maybe a single bed or two. My bed/s where near a tall window with security bars attached to it and in front of the window was a ledge where I could place things. After seeing my living arrangements I knew that I was going to be uncomfortable if I didn't make it my very own space instead of it looking like "my corner" meaning just a bed and clothes. I began going back to my home, before moving into the shelter I was staying with my mother in West Philly. We stayed in a three bedroom house on 61th between Walnut and Locust. My mother wasn't excited about me moving into a shelter but she knew at that time why I did so, so instead she supported me. As I was saying, I went back to my home to see what I could bring with me to the shelter to make things look more comfortable for me. I began getting some bedding items such as sheet sets, pillows and blankets. I also manage to get a lamp, a clock, CD player, a small plant and a curtain for the window. Keep in mind I knew that I would be staying at this shelter for a length of time before I got my own place and having that decorators spirit I just had to change the energy of my atmosphere. My roommates and staff members would make fun of me in good humor about my new corner makeover. They would say things like "wow Raquel your corner looks so beautiful" or "you don't belong in the shelter" or "Can you make my space look like that?" and "you're so talented". I appreciated their complements and words of encouragements but all I wanted to do is to keep my mind occupied to know that greater is coming.

My second transition came after some months went by, a lot of months to say the least. I finally moved upstairs into my own room and bathroom. Now this was heaven compared to living downstairs in a shared space. On the 2nd floor there were class rooms, a daycare for the children and administrative offices for the director and his assistant staff. I enjoyed the energy on this floor it had the since of getting things done and moving forward. When I arrived in my new room I was very excited, it was a big room, I had a key to my door so I felt a since of security and comfort. With this space I began making things more realistic looking, I got a TV, radio, cd player, more plants and window treatment with little décor more lamps and all. I loved that space it was huge in my eyes at the time, the room had a long stretch to it and was oddly shaped because of it's location and shape of the building. I began getting excited about buying colorful sheets for myself and the children and preparing to gather some things for when we move. I use to wake up singing and just being in the element. There were good days and bad days but every time I opened the door to my room I felt a little inspired during my down days and some days I just wanted to get out of that place. The staff continued to compliment and started encouraging me to attend school for interior decorating and or design. My God mother in particular was the one aiming for my greatness and continuously seeing my skills and cheering me on. On a brighter note my room was the show room for the shelter, can you believe that? Well believe it! I can recall once when the director was getting prepared for these big time people with money who were taking a tour of PEC to see how their investments/donations were being spent or something to that effect. They came in my room with cameras and such and began recording and taking a look around. My bed was made neatly and my room was always cleaned, it made me feel really good that they admired how I kept my space. Honestly I know they weren't expecting a women living in a shelter living the way I lived but who cared I was just being me.

Finally I moved out…at some point my third transition came and I finally couldn't take living in the shelter any longer and I moved out with my sister for a few months before my house was finally ready to move in. During that time one of the staff had packed my items and placed it in their storage on the premisses on the third floor. There were apartments on the third floor separate yet own by PEC. I arrived one day to get my things and suddenly all of my things were gone. The staff came downstairs and told me that someone had broken into the storage and manage to take my items. Mostly everything was gone, all the children brand-new clothing, my radio, cd player and even my art supplies from school (yep I took their advice about school). The shelter gave me a refund of $800 but that wasn't half the cost of all the items I had. I had some very nice things and everyone there could contest to that, during the time of debating how much to refund me one of the staff told them that I had more than $800 worth of times, however they gave me what they gave me. From that point I began to learn the lesson of starting over and how beneficial it can be instead of it being a bad thing. Yet it hurts and it will hurt but as new things come to you, you'll began to feel a whole letter better.