Monsters are real

When you were younger, you heard stories of monsters sneaking out of darkened closets and from under beds. Scary stuff for a kid– sure– but you never saw one.

 

You grew up, and now you don’t have to look under your bed, or behind the closet door.

 

You know they aren’t real.

 

You’re lucky. Some of us aren’t.

 

As it turns out, my monsters are real– very real.

 

I’m old by community college standards, and I have a child the same age as some students here on campus.

 

There’s a major generational gap between me and many of my “peers.”

 

This is terrifying to many older students, and I’m no different.

 

I think about it all the time. Was I like you back then? Was I ever this young and dumb?

 

I don’t know when it happened, but when I wasn’t looking, somebody came in and changed everything.

 

Now I sound like a moron when I try to explain simple concepts, because we don’t even use the same words anymore.

 

I’m a “word” guy. What happened to my beautiful language? What’s an emoticon?

 

It keeps me up at night, wondering if I’m just so out of touch that I should crawl back into a hole and wait for it to pass.

 

I am disabled, but though I’ve tried for years, the Social Security Disability Insurance system is more like a house of mirrors than a legitimate social service.

 

I paid them, but they don’t pay me. That’s how it works, apparently.

 

Money is the biggest monster of all, and if you don’t already know that, you will.

 

I took out a student loan last semester, and I’ve been feeding my family off that all summer.

 

See, Veterans Affairs doesn’t pay my G.I. Bill during times we aren’t in class.

 

Spring and Fall semesters are covered, and I am grateful; but for six months out of every year, I don’t get a penny. Scary isn’t even the word for it.

 

It’s nearly November, and the money has been gone for almost a month now.

 

My kid needs clothes, because he grows like a weed. I love to watch him grow, but buying shoes every other month is rough.

 

Rent is due tomorrow, and I can’t pay it.

 

This monster is evil, because most of my neighbors pay under a hundred bucks per month in rent, as they are part of the Section 8 program.

 

But not me. I pay the full rate, because I’m an honorable idiot.

 

That terrifies me. I stay up at night, unable to stop the monsters from sneaking up from under my bed.

 

They scratch and claw at me, but I can only keep fighting them off.

 

I have so many people counting on me to not fail them, and I don’t know how to live up to my end of the bargain without going completely under, because my rules of engagement and yours don’t mix.

 

Each monster is more powerful and terrifying than the last, and they don’t seem to care that I don’t believe in monsters.

 

It is not requisite that I believe– they are there nonetheless.

 

Most days, I am able to fend them off, drive them back.

 

But some days– like today– it’s so hard not to collapse under their weight.

 

The monsters are real, whether you see them or not.