As I walk down Santa Monica Blvd to catch the bus to downtown for modern dance class, I am deciding whether skipping “rush-rush quick- quick” [the tricks that happen during rush hour are always fast, to be able to get home to their wives, etc.] was a good thing. Sometimes I can’t go to dance class because I can’t afford to skip any of the work times; I need the money. Why can’t I have the life that my friends in dance class have? They only have to worry about school, dancing well and if someone likes them.
Just like me….as if!
Something has to change. I can’t keep living this life. Why are my only options to keep turning tricks and live on the street or to go back home and face the wrath and whim of my step-monster? There has to be a better way. I guess there is a third option; I could accept the offer to live with any of the people who have offered but for different reasons that hasn’t felt right yet.
Just yesterday the Sisters [five female impersonators who worked at a local club and owned an apartment in the neighborhood] hinted that I should not be living on the streets and maybe I should think about living with a friend or maybe a group home?
Thanks for the kind thoughts but no thank you. I have seen the inside of group and foster homes and that is not for me. They are like warehouses for kids and a way for someone else to receive a check just for being an adult. The Sisters apologized and let it drop.
I know I need to change my life, but how?
Part of me doesn’t want it to change at all. I love my street family and the fact that they helped and supported me all this time made all the difference. I most likely would have been dead without them. When the Sisters first offered me a place to sleep on a really cold night I said “Thanks, but no thanks” because staying with the pack was important and I didn’t want to be a “cutter”, [a person who seeks good things and excludes their friends]. That is one of the worst things out here. I started to do a few things without them lately. I invite them to come as much as I can. But they usually turn me down. The only one who goes sometimes is my big sister Rainbow. She often comes back with stories of what a great day or night we had and always I try to make sure of it. I want all of us to have “a regular life”, full of the things that other people gripe about. I think because I left my “rents” house without being kicked out I was naïve enough to believe that any kid could get off streets and more importantly that they all would want to. Like, “O my God, was I ever wrong!” My pack believes they belong here. They believe they are “throwaways” who don’t have the right to anything better than being best of the trash. Every time it comes up I get mad and try to change their minds.
They always say “What’s the problem? We are free.”
“Yes, we are free, but free to be threatened, pushed, harassed, chased and bugged [literally and figuratively].”
They say, “We stand up for ourselves. Not many people out here mess with us.”
“I am almost 16 years old and I am tired of sleeping in parks, abandoned cars and buildings, friend’s garages, couches and the alleys of Hollywood,” I say.
“Sometimes we get to sleep in a bed after the trick leaves,” said Colt.
“I am tired of waking up in our favorite alley in the morning and wondering what the dark night brought us: theft, stabbing, someone new or my personal favorite bugs; little, biting, pinching, crawling bugs.”
“Sometimes the bugs are pretty,” said Rainbow with a laugh.
“Yes, that is true every now and again; some bugs are pretty, but that’s not the point. How come I’m always the only one who thinks of getting off the street permanently is a good thing? Everyone else seems happy to be where we are?”
“Oh, here we go again with the 'regular life' talk,” said Colt and De De.
“I sometimes want to get off the streets but that takes money and a lot of it. If you haven’t noticed, our money doesn’t flow like that,” said Rainbow.
“and what about the family TK? We would need at least three or four bedrooms to fit everybody,” Colt said strongly. He was always thinking about keeping us together.
I didn’t tell them the dream I had about the family breaking up when Colt goes to jail after protecting Darn-it from Kelly James. De De gets PG and Rainbow leaves to stay in SD when Sahara tries to do rehab again after the judge tells her that it's that or jail. My dreams feel so real sometimes that they freak me out, so telling others is kind of like, weird even with the people I trust. This one I’ll save until a better time.
I just dropped it after Colt spoke up. He often has the last word if Rainbow is not running the convo.
I feel like a dog for even bringing it up. So I did something that was really hard for an emotional kid with a strong case of “hyperactivity”. I stayed quiet for the rest of the night.
The Sisters had been asking me to help them more and more. If I wasn’t around they would just ask for me to contact them when I came back. The last three months of the year were cold and rainy. On a really bad night we stayed in a shelter (never again). So now it’s over to Ms. Brenda's couch and floor if we have to. She’s very nice but we don’t like to bother her and her kid. Sometimes we would split up and I would stay with friends or go to my Moms. One night I was on the way to stay at my school friend Victor's house when I crossed paths with the Sisters coming back from a show and they offered me a bed in one of their apartments. “Thanks, but no. I have a spot at Victor's house.” They pushed harder and I accepted, a bed all to myself sounded great. I called Victor and told him I was not coming and everything was “tacos”. It was a code word to let him know that I was in a good place. We agreed to connect the next day at school.
The bed was a little hard and the room was dark and spooky with the lights off. When you sleep on the street it’s never completely dark. You have street lights, building lights and if you’re lucky, the moon is out. You never think about that until you’re in a room where it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. After a while I started to see shapes in the dark and then it was like the shapes were trying to tell me a story. Part of me was freaked, the other was interested. Stuff like this was happening more and more. It started when I was a kid in Ohio. That’s a story for another time.
The shapes on the wall were trying to tell me something but I couldn’t really understand. I laid there with the covers pulled up to my neck. I was trying not to just out of my skin. Like I said this is not brand new to me but it’s still scary. I watched until I fell asleep.
So yeah the last three months of 1978 were a wet mess, to be truthful. I started making plastic outfits and wearing cat-suits or long johns under them. Turning tricks in the rain is a drag and not in the good way. I was so happy when some of my regulars started using the pager that the nice lady from the Rotary Club gave me awhile ago. It was great to know in advance that I would have a paying trick. Sometimes they'd pay for my whole night. By then I had decided that I needed to make a certain amount each night to live the way I wanted. It’s a good thing that Colt never asked all of us to pool our money all the time. I didn’t really drink and by then I didn’t do drugs of any kind so I often had money when no one else did.
I didn’t know it then but the night the Sister offered me a bed to sleep in alone would signal a change coming to my life….again.
written by on November 22, 2009 edited spm/tat