My first job was working the front desk at a gym for minimum wage. I had to scan member ID cards, re-rack weights, and clean the entire gym — wiping up people’s saliva from the sinks and their sweat off the treadmills, sanitizing the toilets and showers, and picking up the garbage they left behind. [...]
I regret that it took a life-changing illness, and losing some of my privilege, for me to truly empathize with the struggles of less fortunate people. I wish I had come to this realization sooner, when I had more health and energy to help other people.
It was both a relief and a concern to find the source of the mold. The relief was knowing where it was coming from and the concern was: How the hell do I get rid of it?
I could see all kinds of things that I had missed when I was stuck in my bed. I could feel the breeze swirling around me; I could see hummingbirds buzzing around a tree branch above the roof. I didn't realize it until later, but it was the first time I had been outside in two years.
I'm not proud to say that it took getting sick and losing some of my privilege for me to grasp how fortunate I was as a healthy person. But it is one of the few good things that has come from my poor health.