So, I recently lost my apartment in West Oakland. I had been living their 6.5 years, and as I packed up my shit and got the fuck out, I realized: oh, fuck, this place has kinda defined me as a person for the past 6.5 years.
My humble apartment, aptly dubbed “Mount Everyone,” was the place where I started my former blog Fuck Feast. It was also where I ended it. I got involved in a lot of sexual mischief while living at that house. It was fun. It was dangerous. It was cool.
As I started unpacking my life in my new Berkeley abode, I saw myself, for the first time, outside of the persona that I had constructed for myself in West Oakland. Without West Oakland, who am I?
I know who I was with West Oakland. I could still call myself an artist in West Oakland. I was still active in the political scene in West Oakland. I rallied against gentrification. I wrote about trans visibility and rolled with my sex worker friends. I went out to bars, got drunk, fucked strangers. I was a fucking hustler and a troublemaker.
Now? Now I live in Berkeley, and it’s not that I left all that behind, but more that my life has been reframed in this rather bucolic setting. When I got my eviction letter, I was pissed about getting gentrified out of the neighborhood. But now I live in Berkeley, and, honestly, my life is better now. This neighborhood is great, the apartment itself is cozy. I’ve got tons of amenities, and it’s not very expensive. Sure, I got gentrified out of West Oakland, but I leveled up my entire life in the process. I can’t bitch about gentrification because I’m not actually a victim, so…
The question just becomes: who am I when I’m not suffering. It’s an uncomfortable question for me to ask myself because 82% of my personality is based on suffering.
Me minus my pain equals a total and complete stranger. I’m not sure who I am or what I believe in if I’m not shackled to deeply personal, radical political causes. There is no excuse for my demons if I’m not in pain – after this, if I am still an asshole, it’s just because I’m a fundamentally shitty person, and that will be no one’s fault but my own.
Here’s what scares me the most: what if I am given every tool that I have ever thought I needed to be happy, and I still fail? What if the reason I suffer is because I don’t know how to be happy, period? And I’m stuck here, in this misery, being this miserable person, and nothing will ever change it.
Maybe it would have been easier to labor under the delusions that it is everyone else’s fault that I am like this. Acknowledging that this shit is my fault – I’ll never be ready for that.