I have a long beautiful history of odd relationships, friendships and otherwise, with some crazy and amazing outsiders; hustlers that have peppered my life; crime loving scammers of “the man”; train hopping hobos of sorts; couch surfing creatures who couldn’t or wouldn’t hold down a regular job, couldn’t or wouldn’t be tied down with a lease; liars who made up a new story to define themselves; ratso rizzos; pyromaniacs who loved playing with fire; gorgeous addicts still in their prime who didn’t believe in the future but looked beautiful anyway; messed up dreamers who still did better than the shitty hand they were dealt, despite everything; parentless childless loners and lovers, stunning bastards of the underground; freedom fighters of the soul.
I used to watch in awe as they beat the system in one way or another. I studied them and copied them, the good the bad the ugly and the great until I figured out how to be just like them. They were my role models, the best ones I could find. I remember going into a hippie store in my neighborhood in second grade and seeing the beauty who worked there with her nose ring, I wanted one from that day on, she was one of them. I remember my friend’s gay sister who wasn’t going to let anyone fuck with her, hard as a rock with her armor, telling me how she would never cross her legs, a hideous sigh of weakness, and showing me how she sat on the bus with her legs open in defiance. She was one of them. I was 12. I tried to “own” my bus seat the same way she did but it took time, my friends it took time.
I remember such silly little moments because I knew they were holding what I could not define, could not put my finger on, but what I wanted. It was called freedom and certain beings who flitted in and out of my life encapsulated it better than anyone else around me. It was never the low life side of my dear hustler pals that hooked me, the finding a vacuum in the trash and going into the gypsy storefront to vacuum their floor for them and leaving without the vacuum, but with $40 instead. Nope. That shit was just the entertainment. My friends were funny as hell, but it wasn’t the street hustle that was the thing, it just often came with the territory. The attraction was the independent spirit part, the freedom loving part, the lust for life part- that was what I was striving for, living for, dying to obtain. All I wanted to be was free.
In the end I figured it all out the hard way, I got hard, I hustled, I got stories no honest man would believe, did all that and more, I caught the golden ring, the goal of not getting out of bed for anyone but myself. It was terrific and not enough. In the end I found out I wanted even more than those small dreams. All this and more, indeed.
Today, things are great, I have no complaints. I just want to pay homage to all those trail blazers of my misspent youth. Thanks for being in my life, for making imperfect choices in an attempt to move in the direction of you heart. Thank you for showing me tiny glimpses of freedom, no matter how distorted. Thank you for being my messed up role models. I love you all.
Be kind to the people you meet out there, we are all carrying heavy loads.