A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Are the dog days over?

I moved out. Less than two weeks ago I moved into a tiny studio apartment in Jersey City. It's about the size of a college dorm with added kitchen and bathroom. It is perfect. So things are going pretty well for me.

Everyday I wake up and it's an adventure, I have so much to be thankful for. From family and friends who keep giving me tiny gifts for this place and who have supported my quest for independence, to my two jobs and side gig... I feel pretty damn lucky. And yes, happy. For once I get to swing it out, settle for a bit, and just see where life takes me without taking steps to shift it somewhere myself.

Some things that I will miss from living a nomad lifestyle are still there though. For example, I wanna travel badly and now I can't because my busy schedule won't allow it. I'm dying to go back to Dominican Republic, I'm dying to visit Montreal, and Cuba. I can't believe how happy I am to be settled in, yet this is temporary. I'm in fact getting rid of so many things simply so that I can live life minimally and be ready at any moment to pack up.

I mean, think about it. We all keep so much stuff in our closets and that's all it is...stuff that's in our closet. You don't need that movie ticket from the first time you went on a date or that prom dress. In my case, I'm giving away my Rutgers regalia, 3 bags of clothes, and my belly dancing stuff (I'm gonna learn another skill next). They say someone's richness can be measured not by how much they have but by how little they can live with. That's what I'm trying to do except that my reason to do so is not to feel "rich," but rather because we live in a very materialistic world that it's pretty disgusting how attached we become to certain things. And wanting material things is doing nothing but feeding this big capitalism beast that is eating up all the resources while millions of children starve everyday--Ok, I won't get political Just read this (YES! I know, crazy that this is on Time magazine!).

But I will say this, living minimally is the best. And once you let go of all the material keepsakes and move on, it becomes liberating. It's like meditating while naked. There's nothing but you and your mind and your love for others.

Unfortunately though, as the song Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine comes on, and I sing it as loud as I want despite knowing that my neighbors can hear me for sure, I know that the dog days aren't over. I am not well-off and feeling so cool about living on my own doesn't mean that I've gained any sort of freedom, it doesn't satisfy me like knowing that we should all be entitled to a comfortable home, food, clothes, warmth and love of others would. These things should be a human right. We are loving creatures who shouldn't have to work endless hours and compete for a house and food, when there's enough for everyone. "Why not put the homeless people in all the empty houses?" is what aliens would say if they decide to visit us. If anything, the dog days are only starting. The truth is that the opportunity to travel and do everything that I want won't come like it did during my college years. I'll probably have to save tons to make it happen, especially because I'm gonna have to start paying back some college loans soon. Sigh.

Nonetheless I'm still pretty happy under this tiny roof that I'm paying for. And others are happy for me. And I love you if you are happy for me, thanks! I was recently told that I'm an individualist, not sure if I like being called that. As I picture those who have families who aren't so happy, Those who are homeless in the streets, this idea of being an individualist makes me feel so damn guilty and selfish. I may light incense candles, do yoga, and meditate. I may be living without a tv. And this lifestyle may seem like some sort of proof that it's all about our mindsets. But for millions, thinking about food and about having a peace of mind won't be enough to let it show up on their plates. This whole idea of thinking about goals, or about being confident and believing that you can only works for some and only in some situations in life. I mean, all of us are just one job loss or bad step away from being homeless too! Think about it: no one is guaranteed shelter. Even less a safe shelter.

Accuse me of seeing life as a glass half empty, but it's one life, and water does fall from the sky for free. We need to take it. 


Anonymous said...

you'll be alright darling, we all gotta find our way

- Audrey

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