While living in Santa Barbara for almost 53 years, even without close friendships, I never felt alone. The masterful architecture structured within the city and the inherent beauty found in the landscaped parks were my sisters and brothers; the morning sights of deep shades of blue/green mountain tops were my father. Surrounded by the richness of a unique city, I was acutely aware of the aesthetic beauty that allowed me to privilege to be part of a diverse community.

I had just graduated, with honors, earning an Associates’ Degree in FinancialAccountingg when I was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma. I was forced by finances to move to Merced, now, entering my fourth year as an unwilling resident I find I am completely alone. Unseen by my neighbors, I have come to be the invisible one. A White woman living out her ill-fated circumstance in a predominantly African American hood where Hispanics are rarer than I am in this not so general class of individuals.

My first year in Merced was a cultural shock. A young person was murdered in a round of bullets, I heard the gunfire but didn’t learn of his death until morning. That same day when night fell the screaming of a distraught woman demanded my attention. I went into the back yard and in that moment, directly across the street, I witnessed a hood shooting. The victim was shot twice and survived his experience.

These shootings are never a subject of matter. It’s strange how significant I find them and yet they are left to be an inward experience that you alone own. Sometimes, my civility is defeated by apathy to such things as hood shootings. This community will never have the measure necessary to be considered more than the nothingness that it truly is.

My brother’s duplex, which one unit I occupy, is built on the corner of the main street that leads to the shopping area. Many people in the hood pass by as I pull weeds, my self-prescribed therapy to settle a mind that refuses to take a break from its pondering. The majority of those who pass by do so without acknowledgment or recognition though our paths cross almost daily. And then it may be partly my fault in that I cannot see well enough to recognize anyone until they are less than five feet in front of me. Perhaps, not knowing of my visual impairment, some think I am purposely not acknowledging them, I see how this may be a conundrum. Those few that take time out to speak with me are either drug addicted, mentally ill or both. Nonetheless, whatever we discuss is worthy of my attention as their presence and expressions are relevant to the environment we share.

Now, in these days that have followed my brother’s departure, I find myself alone. I am not depressed rather the hood’s disconcerting nature has caused a shift in my mood which feels like a negative affect. Whereas my need for organization kept things in place, clothes had to put away, dishes washed, the bed always to be made, my present mindset is to judge these chores as trivialities that no longer hold my interest. Simply, I don’t see the bed as being unmade; it’s  a bed that is unmade and will remain so until I feel the necessity for it to be otherwise.

I wonder just how long I will be able to stay alive in this place. My attitude no longer possesses a mentality that promotes motivation and although I admit the feeling of being misplaced in the same moment I also feel trapped. And I would desperately fly away if it were not for the lack of wings to take flight.

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