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  • Writer's pictureJulian S. Miles

the war between two places

Updated: Jun 18, 2022

I pressed the number 2 on the elevator, stepped in, and pressed my face against the cool steel wall. I took a deep breath and waited for the door to open. When it did, I stepped out of the elevator and began the long walk to my storage unit, where my entire life was stored inside. Approaching my storage, I dug into my pocket, retrieved the key, and unlocked the storage. I bent down, pulled up the door and stepped back, and looked inside. My mind went back to the short three months ago when a friend and I moved all my belongings back into the storage. Ironically it was the same storage from when I first moved to Atlanta.

Tears sprang into the corner of my eyes as I thought of the reason I had come to my storage. I took a step inside the storage and closed my eyes, allowing the tears to roll down my face. I inhaled and leaned against my bedroom dresser. I had wanted to see and smell what was left of my home. It was two of us moving my entire house. My mind floated back to moving all my things inside of the storage. It was just my friend and me. 2 people. It had felt so wrong. Overwhelming. Like most of my existence.

Towards the end of moving, we were tired, hungry, and broke. Clothes, shoes, purses, and random items were strewn across the storage. I was so broke that I had to wait for my paycheck to come onto my card at midnight so that we could eat. My friend and I had moved all my things out of the other apartment, but we had nowhere to go, so we just sat in there and dozed until it was time to drive him back home out of town.

My mind floated back to the present, and I realized that I was still there in the middle of my old life and standing amid a new life. Without a home, without my children, and being forced to depend on the God that I was speaking so boldly about. I moved on from the dresser further back into my storage and found as if it had been waiting for me, a clear spot for me to sit on my couch. I sat down and propped my foot up onto a box, and leaned my head back onto the couch. Instantly, my senses flooded with thoughts of my home. I pictured the atmosphere of my house, thick with heaviness, weed, cigars, sadness, and desperation. I wondered how I could have been so stupid. I wondered how I could have thought that I could find another home with my credit history and rental history, and then it felt like an outer mind experience where I wondered what in the hell did, I even know about anything at all. All my hope seemed pretty hopeless at that point. And although I came to terms with what was happening in my life, it still did not keep moments like this from happening where I felt so put together but pulled apart. I felt like I was in two different places at once.

I found myself in the middle of a war with myself. on the inside, i was missing the familiar even though it was causing me pain. on the other hand, I knew that this breaking was necessary to my healing. There was no way around this war that had to be fought.

I knew that this war was the gateway to get me where I needed to be. Although at that very moment I could not articulate the words the right way, I later realized that at that time in my life, I was still operating in the mindset that there was indeed NO hope for my new life (AKA the future). What I knew at this point was mostly pain.
The truth was the apartment was roach-infested, and I had thought that was what I was worth. I had thought that I had to deal with it. I was oppressed, depressed, addicted to drugs and nicotine, lust, loneliness, rejection, inferiority, and so much more in that home. It is effortless to believe that where we left is way better than what we are facing when in pain. The hope of a future is hard to see in the middle of a war. It almost always will seem like the old was a better way to live. At least with the pain that we have always lived with, we know how to navigate it. I learned how to live amid my addictions where I could still function, but I had no idea how to survive in this new territory.

My mind had even drifted back to all the other storages where I had held those same possessions at times. With those memories came the feelings of failure as I recalled how I had always thought where I was going to be the “best” that there was to come, and it never was. So, I could not help but believe that this, again, was a futile attempt to change something unchangeable—my existence on this earth.

The only difference between this place and the other one was that I had always believed in my own strength and believed that a new location (physical) would always make things better. I had always believed that I could control the outcome of my life. Now that I had opened the door to God in my life, I now KNEW without a doubt that there was nothing I could do to rush, persuade, or maneuver HIS process for restoration in my life.

I had cried most of the way home from work that day just because I felt so alone and like I had screwed up so badly. I was still struggling to pay my bills only now; I was not even paying my bills but everyone else’s. Somewhere in life, it had taught me that the things that I wanted and desired in my life would always be unattainable. I wanted home so bad at that very moment that I considered sitting in there until I died. I could imagine them dragging me out of there only because someone would see my car and begin to wonder why it was still there, and finally, they would locate me, and I would just be sitting there in the storage, sweating and looking like an idiot. And I thought to myself that it wouldn’t even be looking like an idiot sitting inside of a 20 by 20-foot storage room sweating that would bother me. It would be the fact that the people who showed up to find me wouldn’t even be able to say anything to me that would change the way that I felt on the inside.

When I was ready to leave, I pushed past all of my belongings and reached up and pulled the storage down. I found the lock from on the ground and locked my storage. I made sure it was closed and walked down the long hallway back to the elevator. I did not even bother to look back at my storage. I pressed one on the elevator, waited for the doors to slide open, and stepped in. This time I did not lean my head against the steel walls; I stepped in and faced the wall and did not turn around. When the doors opened, I turned around and stepped back into the lobby. The sun hurt my eyes when I walked back outside to my car. My eyes were still red and puffy when I got inside my car and looked at myself in the mirror.
At that very moment, I wanted to let myself out of the gated storage and exit onto incoming traffic, and press the gas as hard as I could. The thought of my children experiencing the same things that I had experienced was the only thing that kept me from doing it. Or possibly Jesus. Either way, I felt slightly better as I drove home. I knew that in this war of two places that I absolutely could not go back to where I had come from; instead, I had to move forward.

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