After a certain age we look back on the life we have lived and ask ourselves what the hell was I thinking. As teenagers we feel indestructible. Nothing can touch me and I will live forever. We do not see how actions have consequences and sometimes the memories will haunt us forever. Haunt may be a strong word for some and I guess I look at it as something I just can never forget and I see it still like it happened yesterday.
The cold outside because it is 2 in the morning mid November comes through my sweater down to my bones. My feet are wet because my shoes are old and walking on the train tracks I encountered several unforgiving puddles. It feels like I’m in another world and I have no idea how to get out of there. At 13 I was out on the streets basically raising myself, because the homefront wasn’t very stable.
Gilroy wasn’t across the country, but I can not remember ever being outside of San Jose so it might as well have been China. Hanging around with people that were much older and having experience’s that someone my age or anyone for the that matter should never have was an everyday occurance. This all went down before cellphone’s, so when I was out there was no finding me unless you really made an effort. I should have never had the opportunity to disappear like I did, but no one was paying attention so I was a free bird. Jumping on the bus with some friends and paying one dollar for a pass that let me ride all day was how it all started. Friends of friends lived in the garlic capitol of the world, so let’s go hang out.
I was used to taking public transit everywhere because asking my dad for a ride was not in the cards ever. I can remember one time having to call him and ask him to pick me and my then pregnant girlfriend up from shopping for the baby because we had to much stuff to be carrying on the bus and the attitude I got for the next few days was unreal. I now owed him for the ride which he made seem like I inconvenienced him so much, but all he was doing was sitting at home watching TV like always, but that is a whole other story. Taking a bus was like second nature and it was almost a safe place for me. It was familiar, and comforting. The hard plastic seats and tinted windows were an invitation to throw my feet up and watch the world go by. I had my own private shuttle that I shared with everyone else with a dollar, but I could block them out and just be alone in my own world. Watching the power poles and street lights wiz by and imagining a skateboard zooming across the sidewalks next to the bus doing tricks and keeping pace with us. I don’t know when I started seeing this figure preforming for me while I toured the city, but I feel he was always there. Was he following me, or was he leading us and making sure I got where I needed to go?
I’ll be honest, I was not a bad kid. I always had good grades and did well in school, but my family situation put me in places where my friends were never the best people. I was the youngest of the group and of course naive. Being that the group was all older then me, I also tried to impress them when I was asked to do things. Never said no and always put myself out there. Yes it was a lack of self-esteem and a cry for attention because I had none at home or from family anywhere. I didn’t know these things at the time. Many of time I was taken advantage of by this group, but they let me be a part and I was willing to take the abuse for my place with them. No matter how small it may have been.
You never know where a day is going to go, but I never imagined this one going where it did. I was only 13 hanging out with a group that ranged in age from 17 to 20. When I think back, just the idea that they were cool with me hanging out with them should have raised a few flags. Going to someone’s house I didn’t know and stay a night or a few days was normal during this time, so hanging out in a different city just meant a new place to crash. People coming home from work, having kids and being adults was just so weird to me. They were passing me beers and flammable plants without batting an eye. Never questioning me about how old I was. It was just an average apartment I guess, but thinking back it was a kick back for druggies and run aways. Everyone was cool and just did their thing. Traffic came in and out of that place like 7-11. It was non stop day and night. At this time I was drinking, smoking and doing other recreational substances that made day and night overlap and sometimes days. I had been there for what I felt was the weekend, but I learned later it was more like 4 or 5 days. This was the first place I had gone with them that had kids my age coming thru as well. It wasn’t just adults getting drunk and high and teasing me and making fun of me for whatever reason. So much of my anger and pain comes from those years and being mistreated by people for doing nothing more then being a kid.
I was on the moss green velvet love seat, the kind with the material that you can make it darker or lighter by running your hand back and forth across it when a dirty blonde teenage girl sat on the floor right in front of me pushed herself back forcing me to open my legs and leaned her head back and fell asleep. I seen her the first day there with two other girls. One was a chubby brunette with braces and the other looked just like her without the freckles but also older. I didn’t know her name and why did she come right here. I ended up passing out while mind mind was wondering about this girl. Who was she and why did she pick me to sit by. Did she want to “hang out” or was she just looking for a safe spot and I looked harmless. This was all going on in my head as I drifted away on whatever cloud I had induced. Then blackness……
Have you ever been hit straight in the face? No guard up, or moment to stiffen up knowing what was to come, but a solid fist to your dome? Well, up until that point I had never experienced this pleasure either. This 15 year old girl was a runaway and her dad had heard where she was and came to look for her. Guess whose legs she was between sleeping when he came in? You probably added that equation up before I even asked. Up until this point in my life I had been in a couple fights, but nothing crazy. After this moment I had been jumped, beat up, hit with a bat, shot and shot at. Being woken from a drug laced slumber by a smashing fist to your face is something I can never explain, but the rest was just as bad. Her dad pushed her away and grabbed me by my sweater and threw me down to the geound b toward the door. Kicked me twice in the side and punched me two more times, but now I was covered up so my arms and hands took most of the impact. All I could hear was, “who the fuck are you and why are you with my daughter?” The girl was now up screaming at her dad that she had no idea who I was and was not with me. This statement seemed to upset her dad even more, as if me being a stranger with his daughter between my legs would clear everything up. I got up quickly ran out the door to his son who had a gun. I stopped looked at him and lost my hearing. I got so dizzy and fell against the stucco wall outside scrapping up my arm and face. I later learned that I had done to much of a certain drug that actually caused this to happen to people. I hit the ground and woke up with a foot on my chest. I guess while I was out the daughter explained things to the dad and he understood I had nothing to do with her and her not being home, so I see them walk out he waves to his son and they get in a truck and drive away. I still have no idea who the girl was or they were.
I crawl inside after falling a few times and learning it may not be a good idea to try and stand. I see there is the lady that lives in the apartment, and a couple guys I have never seen before. No one cared about what had just happened to me and my group of “friends” is no where to be seen. This is day four of me being at the house and I heard my people left two days ago. I was alone with no money, no way of getting home and my dad has no idea where I am at. And now we go back to the beginning. Walking on the tracks cold, wet, bleeding and bruised. I have no idea how long I was walking, but after a while I recognized the street the bus came down so I started following the street. After an hour of walking I could see lights coming toward me and I just stood there like a deer trapped hoping to be rescued from this nightmare. It was the first 68 bus heading toward Gilroy from San Jose. An older black woman asked if I was okay and if I needed a ride. I let her know I had no money and was actually going back to San Jose, the lady replied gently, ” I and going to Gilroy taking a break then heading back and she would let me ride without paying. She can see I just needed a break. I teared up and thanked her. I walked to the back of the bus as she turned off the lights and just continued driving down the road. I sat in the back row leaned my head against the window and closed my eyes. A few moments in I opened my eyes and saw my skateboarding friend outside the window keeping pace with us. I felt that comfort come over me, and realized I was finally in my safe place being taken home.