“Stop playing, are you serious?” Those were my words when my father told me we were being sent to a Tier II shelter in the Bronx. I quickly packed my bags. I was ready to leave. My thoughts? I am finally one step closer to getting my own apartment. But when we arrived, my face dropped. The shelter happened to be located only a block away from where my father and I had lost our first apartment, when I was nine years old.

I had some bad memories over there. But I wasn’t going to let the past bother me. That’s for sure. Some of the things I’ve done in the last year I never figured I would have ever accomplished. Things like becoming published, writing my first story for City Limits [November 2002] about life inside the EAU [Emergency Assistance Unit], where over a hundred of us were sleeping and living in office space, on benches and on the floor, and where a teenager my age committed suicide. After that story, I continued to do other stories on my own, with Coalition for the Homeless, National Public Radio, with Mayor Dinkins on WLIB, all revolving around teen homelessness. In February, I opened the NASDAQ and, in May, was a participant on a Showtime television show with Tim Robbins, the actor. But during all this, while I was making presentations at schools about homeless children with the Coalition, one thing really began to bother me more than ever: I’m still homeless.

Then tragedy struck my life once again, with the passing of my mother. My heart, my soul.

All this stress has been destroying me. I don’t want to work in school anymore. I have become lazier. I don’t do all my work. I barely even go to church. But I know I can make it. I know what I am capable of. I have a big future in mind, going off to college, having a family, becoming a city official like the mayor or something. My list of dreams is endless. But you know how the saying goes, “The past makes the present”? Well, isn’t it also true that the present is what makes the future? If my present is going to determine my future, I seriously need a change. I need my own apartment. But if I can’t have that, I guess my only key is college now. That’s a goal I will achieve. I will make my mother proud.