Maria Fabian has a story. She’ll introduce it to you in a moment. It’s wrenching; and it’s the core of Invisible Innocence, the book she co-wrote with Tampa filmmaker Fred Smith. I met Maria some months ago at Deep Carnivale, a sort of book and art festival in Tampa. I was impressed not just with her story, but her presence in telling it. Authority leaps off of her. And her book, which I read later, reveals a talented eye for detail and no tolerance for BS. It does what all important writing/art does — it gives these little words like “abuse”, “hunger”, “overcome,” and “bootstraps” some sort of meaning.
Today, Maria is a 24-year-old young woman trying to make it in a world often quite hostile to 24-year-old women with limited resources. She has little margin for error. Thus, as compelling as Maria’s past is, I’m just as interested in how she lives in the present and will in the future. I’ve asked her to pop in from time to time and share some observations of her world. Maria lives in Tampa, but I think her experiences and observations will have relevance for anyone who cares about the dignity and support of real young people — of all genders, races, and classes — fighting to get a foothold in life.
It’s up to you…
by Maria Fabian
One day after graduating from high school, I realized I was completely alone. My family was gone and when their dust had settled I looked around and realized that I was back in the dingy apartment again with no lights, running water or food. It was just me alone with my thoughts. I thought about my life and pictured myself falling through the cracks as any good I had known since I was six years old had withered away.
I grew up in a hostile environment that affected me mentally, physically and spiritually. There were times when I felt like I was living my own personal Cinderella story, a house slave sentenced to a loveless life of thankless manual chores. I knew there was no Prince Charming who would ever come and save me. I would have to make my own prince out of my confidence and independence.
Most people who grew up the way I did, eventually turn to a life of crime. They end up behind bars or dead. I refused that life. I’ve been homeless. I’ve lived in a shelter. Now I live on my own. Life hands you blows, but it’s up to you to change your situation. That’s what I write about. My hope is that my story will help others living in the same situation I was realize that they are not alone. Someone is listening and can help turn things around. All that’s left is to take that first step.
I’m very interested in Maria’s next steps. I’m not paying her a dime because I don’t get paid to do this either. So she’ll weigh in when she has the time and motivation. But I do hope she’ll treat this space like something of a periodic diary. I think her perceptions of the world around her will prove more valuable than many other people’s.