Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Abigail McMurry, Acting President of Associated Students of Laney College, spoke against last-minute class cancellations at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting.
Class cancellations, basic needs, and 'flying pigs' at 5/14 meeting for PCCD Trustees
Ian Waters, News Editor • June 1, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024
Archives
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
Melanie Dixon appointed CoA President
After two years of acting appointments, the College of Alameda will finally fill the presidency with a permanent hire this summer
Ivan Saravia, Staff Writer • May 23, 2024
College of Alameda jazz professor Glen Pearson demonstrates his musical talent on his classroom piano. Hes one of the newest members of the Count Basie Orchestra, a historic 18-piece jazz ensemble that took home a Grammy this year.
The humble Grammy-winning pianist leading CoA’s music program
Desmond Meagley, Staff Writer • March 4, 2024
Archives

    A new home in writing

    Memories of teenage homelessness shape adulthood for creative writer

    BikeThere I was, fifteen and suddenly homeless. 
    The unbridled freedom of it all was beautiful, but it came with quite a lot of troubled times. I stole, I begged, and sometimes I literally sang for my supper, but I had friends and companions who shared my misery with me. 
    That taught me a kind of compassion I hadn’t been lucky enough to learn from my own family. 
    I spent three years living on the street. Three years doesn’t seem like much anymore, but those were long important years. The years are always longer when you’re young. 
    Some of my experiences were nothing short of amazing. I saw the Milky Way in the sky from high up in the mountains, as far from a city as you can get in California. I stayed up late talking about life with people I respected and admired. 
    I traveled with my closest friends in a caravan, singing songs along with the radio and thinking about nothing but the love we all had for each other, no responsibilities nagging at the back of our minds. 
    Moments of blissful contentment were something I was experiencing for the very first time in my life. 
    That contentment was speckled with dark and painful days that seemed like forever when they came. 
    It’s the depths of our darkest hours that make us realize how bright the light in our lives really is. 
    There were many nights that were more cold and lonely than I thought I could stand. Sometimes it seemed like the rain wouldn’t end. 
    HomelessI would try my best to sleep under thick bushes and trees to keep as dry as I could, but the water always rolled in underneath, soaking my bones from the bottom up. 
    I remember one morning, the sun only just lighting up the sky behind the clouds, I’d been soaking wet for days. No stores were open yet except one donut shop. 
    In that moment, all I wanted was to be out of the rain for just an hour. My feet were cracked and sore from being wet for so long. 
    I walked into the shop and bought a donut with some change I had in my pocket.. I had practically eaten the whole thing I already when I sat down. 
    Before I had even swallowed the last bite, the shop clerk told me I had to leave. He didn’t want someone like me taking up a table in his empty shop at sunrise. 
    Discrimination was always a painful experience, but worse were the all too frequent human losses. Addiction took many of the people I knew from this world, while others were lost to accidents, prison, illness and violence. 
    Since homeless people spend a lot of time alone in secluded outdoor places, often without phones to call for help, accidents can be a real disaster. 
    One old friend of mine fell off a train when he fell asleep. Another caught his tent on fire in the woods. 
    Both died. 
    DaughterHomeless people are also often victims of violence. The homeless are an easy, unprotected target for people who want to cause harm. 
    I’ve seen more than one grown man die at the hands of undue violence with my very own eyes. It isn’t something I would ever like to see again. 
    What can anyone do in times like those? Would I let the tragedy eat me alive, or would I nurture it and let it feed a part of me that has always been and will always be hungry for experience, wisdom, and adventure?
    I birthed more memories back then than most people get to make in a lifetime, but the truth is I’m one of the lucky ones. 
    Today I’m a mother to a bright and happy ten-year-old, I’m back in school getting a real education, and I’m pursuing a career in creative writing. 
    I was one of those rare birds that faces homelessness because of finite circumstances; circumstances that can be resolved with time. 
    Many of my old friends and companions aren’t even alive today to see how far I’ve come. Their circumstances were less finite, and much more treacherous. 
    We do not have to weigh our lives on a scale designed with a particular narrative in mind. We do not have to conceal our joy just because others in the world are sad, and we do not have to stifle our pain in order to preserve the contentment of others. 
    We get to choose how our present will shape us as it becomes the past. 
    Cherish it. 
    Hold onto it. 
    Laugh and cry as often as you can, because one day you’ll remember when you did, and all of it will matter. 
    The joy and the sadness.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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