Birthday Buzzcut

Six years ago, I was living in a tent a few miles outside downtown Austin, Texas. It may have looked like an ordinary WalMart camping tent. But it was actually U.S. government housing.

I was working for a federal program called Americorps, which sends young adults out to various places in the U.S. to do community service. I worked at a daycare in rural New Mexico and cleared a hiking trail in the middle of the Missouri forest. In Austin, my team and I were helping out at a recycling center. By day we sorted cans and bottles on a conveyor belt, at night we slept at a park. We cooked our dinners over a campfire and showered at a YMCA.

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