This year is a no-brainer. I am unbelievably grateful to be living in a hotel in a crap part of town, with no prospect of getting out of here anytime soon. I am grateful to share laundry, to have one pair of pants available, to have to remove my car stereo at night, to have to buy a locking gas cap and chain down the hood of my car, to hear the domestic-abuse victim who's hiding next door weeping through the wall.
My life just two months ago was so, so much worse.
Thanks to the money-pit house and, to a lesser degree, my frustrations with Pittsburgh's culture of low expectations, I got the pleasure of dealing with anxiety for the first time of my life. I slept horribly. I felt self-conscious handing objects to people; my hands, and the object, crazily trembled. I fretted constantly, my mind running hyperactive circles as it desperately tried to find an exit. I couldn't drink caffeine because it only exacerbated things—less sleep, more worry, more trembling. The only thing that brought me any relief was alcohol, and as the child of alcoholics, I do not seek that station in life.
The day I crossed the Ohio border, it all ceased. Click. And now I'm making up for lost time. Here's the floor of the passenger side of my car. Oh, sweet caffeine, my love, my life, welcome home.