I Don't Have To Label My Food Anymore!

Contributed by Abby Lampley

I've always wanted to live completely on my own. Growing up, my dream was to live in a small apartment in the middle of a small town, where I could get to anywhere that I wanted just by walking. I wanted to be able to take care of myself and to never have to ask people for help.

For the longest time, I wasn't sure if this dream would be able to become a reality. This reality that I wanted was questionable because of my circumstances. I had half my brain removed as a child and due to that, I am partially paralyzed and I used to have quite a few cognitive issues. Nothing can stop me from achieving my dreams though. 

My first taste of living completely on my own started on July 27, 2015. I was eighteen and I was in danger of being homeless. Thankfully, I got connected with MY House and they put me in their transitional housing that they had available. This was a big step for me. In a sense, I was living on my own because I had to buy my own food, get a job and pay rent. At the same time, I was still living with other people and that was not what I wanted as my end goal.

One rule that I learned quickly about living with roommates is that you had better label your food with your name. If I didn't label my groceries, then somebody would eat it. As a minimum wage, part-time employee, buying food and not getting to eat it was not an option. I just couldn't afford to have that happen. So, I bought a sharpie one day and started putting my name on everything that I bought.

I was in transitional housing for fourteen months. I saw many people move in and out while I stayed behind, waiting for my turn to move out. I became the person in housing who told new people the rules of living there. Always, I made it clear that they had to label their food or it would get eaten. Some people listened to me, while others didn't.

Recently, it became my turn to move out of MY House's transitional housing and into my own place. I got connected with Valley Residential Services and ended up getting the keys to a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Wasilla. It is a small apartment in a small town, where everywhere I go is within walking distance. It is the dream that I always wanted to make into a reality. I am officially able to say that I am living completely on my own. I am able to make my own rules for where I live and make my apartment look the way I want it to. I am so excited to be completely in charge of myself now.

I will always be grateful for the fact that MY House let me stay in transitional housing for so long. Their housing gave me a safe place to stay while I was getting on my feet again. Living with roommates taught me patience and helped me learn who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live. The MY House staff and the people I've lived with through transitional housing have also taught me that it is okay to ask for help and that I don't have to do everything myself. This is a personal battle that I have to fight with every day.

While I am grateful for the transitional housing, I am really loving having my own space. I have my own washing machine/dryer, things stay clean and you know what? I don't have to label my food anymore!