12 August 2014

now is the time

Yup. It's happening. At last, I have gained the courage to step out into the big, scary world all alone. I am equal parts excited and utterly terrified for this new battle.

Three days ago (on 9 August 2014, I am going to mark this date in my memory forever), I decided that I have to set a too-big goal in a too-little times span or I will never accomplish any of my dreams. It only took a few hours to decide what I was going to do – as I have been dreaming of this adventure my entire life. And it took me even less time deciding when to do it, as I realized I have never had a real New Years Resolution. So, at some point between Dec 30 and Jan 1, I am going get on an Amtrak train that will take me to Austin, Texas and never bring me back. And I am going to start a new life there.

So far, I have been hit with two questions. I will address the answer to both.

  1. Why Austin, Texas? What is there for you in Austin?
    The two times I have been there have been the only moments in my life where I felt like I fit in. I am weird. The city is weird. It's a perfect match. It also has more opportunity for me than other places that I have considered. I want to go back to school to study either neurology or forensic psychology. I also want to write. There, I can both find a place to study and be in a very media-centric area. The art, music, and television scene in Austin blows my mind. I have considered NYC and LA for similar opportunities, but Austin managed to win out. I feel safer there than in other large cities as people have always been kinder and more respectful toward me. It is also warmer than NYC, and since I will be leaving in winter, I don't want to possibly be stuck outside in the cold. And it is detached from the people I know in California who may either send me back home or allow me to be dependent on them. It is also midway between where I grew up (Pennsylvania) and where I want to end up (California).
  2. Are you sure you're doing the right thing? What do your parents think?
    Firstly, my parents don't and aren't going to know about this. I don't need people trying to stop me. I need people who will support me. Secondly, yes. Yes, yes, yes I am absolutely sure this is the right thing to do. I have been in a situation that has left me feeling hopeless for too long. I can't do it anymore. If I continue just drifting by, I will end up killing myself before I reach 25. I know myself well enough to know that I have to take a giant leap to accomplish what I want to accomplish in life. I don't get places unless I completely throw myself out into open water and start swimming toward an island. For the next few months I will be meticulously planning this new start to my life – and in just three days of planning, I realize more and more that this is the right decision. I have mapped out shelters, social service offices, food pantries, churches, etc in the area – and I may even have a part-time job already waiting for me.
So far, since I have only been planning for a few days, I only have the basics worked out. I know where I will go in case of emergency. I know where to find shelters. Where to find food. Where to find trustworthy people. I have asked a friend in Texas if she can find someone who will allow me to use their address so I can be transferred to a new job (and hopefully open a bank account and a P.O. Box). I have read up on Austin's laws in regards to being homeless – panhandling, sleeping, showering, etc. I am developing a support system that includes people from all over – in case I get into any rocky situations. I have found people who will hold onto my most valuable possessions until I have a place to keep them myself. And more.

Things could take two directions upon my arrival in Austin. As I get into the city at 6:22 PM, my first night there I will almost definitely be on the streets all night. After that, it depends on how much support I can gather from other people. - As I said, I may have a part-time job there waiting for me. This will give me income, a place to store my work clothes, and a safe space to 'loiter'. I will immediately begin looking for either a second part-time job or a full-time job. Now, where I will be staying until I get an apartment is still in question. It is possible that I will be living on the streets until I can save enough money and find a cheap apartment with roommates. This is not ideal. I have found though that there is a Bed and Breakfast walking distance from where I may be working that has a $1,000 monthly rate. If I could afford this for one or two months, this would give me a chance to secure another job and find a place to live. I am very much hoping for this option as it will give access to a shower, bathroom, kitchen, washer/dyer, etc, and also provide me with safety that the streets can't give me.

I am reaching out now for help. I am currently working, but I will still need additional money to support myself for the first few months I am in Austin. I am hoping between work and the kindness of other people, I can raise $5,000 before Dec 30. This will cover my train ticket, two months at the bed and breakfast, a bus pass, food, etc. I will be leaving with nothing but a backpack full of essentials (in case I end up on the street, as I don't want anything particularly valuable stolen from me).

If you would like to help, I would be forever grateful.

I have opened a gofundme where donations can be collected for my train ticket, a place for me to stay, food, etc.

I have also created an amazon wishlist with basic items I will need.

And, if you would like to send anything else (ex: gift cards or cheaper versions of items on my wishlist), you can email me at jalyssarussell@gmail.com and I will provide you with an address in which you can send mail. If you know of a cheaper place for me to live (even for just a month or two), please email me at this email address as well.

It would mean so much.

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