INSP has been asking vendors from across the street paper network to write letters to their 25-year-old self to mark the end of INSP’s 25th anniversary year. The main change for Luise (62) and Andrea (57), both Apropos vendors, since they were 25 is their feeling of independence, which is in no small part down to their involvement with the street paper.
In 1982 I turned 25. At that time, there was no street newspaper in Austria. I lived in Vorarlberg, in Bregenz, and I already knew my partner. There were not many opportunities to get an apartment in the city back then, so we quickly decided to make our way to Salzburg. A good friend of ours then helped pay for the trip. It was not an easy journey, but with the support of the social counselling centre, Verein Treffpunkt, we managed to return to an ordinary life with an apartment.
My partner’s mother helped us a lot and this was an experience that had a big impact on me. At that time, there were some very rough moments too. It was often the case that I was very much at my wits’ end. However, there were also many people who supported us during these dark times.
Today, I am very happy with how I have managed to live through that and with how I live now; with my own apartment and my own domain where I can simply lock the door. A warm home is worth a lot and I truly appreciate it. As a 25-year-old today, I would think this about myself: “Hopefully this will never happen to me”; or “It’s not easy for her either”. Perhaps my 25-year-old self would encourage me. If I was 25 now, I would perhaps be well-informed about what is going on. But with selling the street paper, I don’t think that many young people would stick it out. I would advise my 25-year-old self never to give up, no matter how difficult it is. There is always a way out of a sticky situation because I have experienced it myself.
So many years have passed. Today, I am 57 years old. Every day, I go everywhere, from offices, to boutiques to the Rockhouse. I always find new regular customers everywhere. Did Rockhouse exist 25 years ago with its concerts? I think it was maybe just an idea. Yes, I used to be a music enthusiast, but I always avoided loud concerts. Open-air concerts, that was the dream. Can you still remember them in Bregenz back then? Today, it is the Festspielhaus opera house. Yes, those were the days.
My dear 25-year-old Andrea, you still had no idea about street papers. That didn’t exist yet. Apropos is only 20 years old. When it came out, there were not many social benefits and the paper was the only income for many people. That has changed now with new social legislation. But the salesmen from Romania, they still mainly live from selling papers. When I was 26, I came to Salzburg from Vorarlberg. There was no support. It was then no longer possible for me to complete my education and training. I simply had no money. No, it was not easy at that time. Support and personal success would have done me good.
I worked for a short time on an organic farm once. That was the healthiest time of my life. Since then, I have been eating organic food. Sometime or other, I came to Apropos. Nobody becomes rich from it, but it is virtually our life support. I eventually got my own column where I could write and it has been like that ever since. I am still there and I still write.
Today, I must say that I feel good in my life. I can eat healthily and get to know lots of new people again and again through sales. Before, I was not so aware that everything ends. Death was not an issue. Today, more and more people I know die and some misfortunes simply affect me more. What I still wish for is that I can weave pictures in peace and enjoy nature. My dear 25-year-old Andrea, I would still give you this advice: Explore the world while you are still young, walk the Way of Saint James and tell people about the beautiful work at Apropos.
Translated from German by Daniel McLeod.
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