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Eyes Cast Downward- Memoir Excerpt

Originally hand written in July 2015 Late Spring of 2014.  Just Months before liver failure Our eyes are nearly always cast dow...

Friday, August 21, 2015

We of The Street

 Originally handwritten in reflection- August fifth of 2015

To be among that familiarity, that gutter camaraderie I long for. 
A second beating heart within me. 
It beats for them in cadence with theirs.
A camaraderie that is only known to a group I refer to as, 
"We of the Street."
A.K.A Dirty Kids and countless other sub genres.

Every time I walk past them with their sleeping bags seem so welcoming, fierce, loyal street pups cuddled beside them, I just want to crawl right back, to lie down and disappear, among them again.

It was here in New York City, The L.E.S and the East Village, that I found there exists an entire group of us. Our own bizarre family offshoot.
I know now that we're everywhere.

But when I was fourteen nearing fifteen, until the conception of my son, in Broward County of South East Florida, I was a one of kind.
I do not mean that in the High School yearbook sense. 
I don't think I ever was in any yearbook, after sixth or seventh grade.
 I never stayed in one school long enough or I was absent too often, Runaway... etc... 

I first started running away at twelve and decided it was preferable to living with my biological mother. 
Sleeping under the Deerfield Beach pier, on the lifeguard stands, broke down school buses, graveyards, the Hansel and Gretel; many a sleazy hotel, random strangers homes, The Starting Place, The Covenant House in Ft Lauderdale Beach, those 13 absurd Baker Acts, foster homes and of course, D.J.J. Broward County's Juvenile Detention Center. Becoming a ward of the state, group homes (modern day orphanage), foster homes then pregnancy at fifteen.
Between my kleptomania, wanton drug use, promiscuity and an overall nihilistic masochism.
(Among other questionable behavior I won't get into now.)
No dear reader, I knew of no one that lived as lived, felt as I felt. I wish I had, it would have been nice, I only felt like a leper, an invader of the human race as a teenager girl.

But, I suppose my behavior was quite alien.

But not here...

It is our disparate comfort, one of the very few we have. 

I assure you it's difficult to understand, very rare to sympathize and impossible to empathize.

Not unless, or perhaps until, those curious eyes that look down with skewed vision have not simply lived it for a time, but only when it has become their entire existence.
When their past life ceases to be relevant.
It becomes a distant and fading memory;
A fictitious tale a child was once told.
It must.

Me and the dozens of female comrades you try and ignore upon the sidewalk;
We are the Juana Ines De La Cruz, Marie Antoinette, Joan of Arc hybrids.
 The infiltrating mob; the furious expectations of societal norms.

Pointing their unforgiving fingers in unrealistic judgment.

The chop that took Antoinette'; now that guillotine gleams in the maniacal 
moonlight, taunting 
each of our obstinate and beautiful heads.

The merciless blight we endure-
Our beastly addictions, our anger, our willful natures;
"Best believe I'll fuck you before fuck me!"

That stand by, guarded stance and 

of course, our singular sufferings.

I believe there is a unique sense of solidarity in pariahdom.
Though I am aware it sounds contradictory.
I do wish it was expressed more often.
Nevertheless, it is a signal, a secret word, a code, that we have written upon us that is invisible to the naked eye, but we pick up it on like a sixth sense.

All we wanted was a right to exist in a world that was worth existing in. 

We fought till we became weary, those that haven't become trappings to an unfortunate and premature end still do.

Whatever it was that had us cornered each in their own right. 

Was often more similar than dissimilar and what kept us hand in hand toward this foreboding condemnation.

Someone outside of this world is likely to 
balk in disbelief, that this is what brought us together and more often what kept us together. 

Now, as for my male comrades; Protective and territorial; charismatic and manipulative- the most resourceful, survive and then some.

The most genuine and bad ass mother fuckers 

I have ever come across.
 Forces you do not want to reckon with, and you won't.
I could compare them to Antoni Mengual-of Chile

Most of these young men that I came to love and to fear, were once young idealists with the best of intentions. Raised with a familiarity of some fascism or expectations.
 Albeit upbringing or general societal demands or conditioning. 
They disliked this, immensely.

In fact, it is not uncommon to hear one of them bellow "Fucking Nazi Pig!" 

Or a personal favorite "Yuppie Cunt!"

Most likely directed at our present day oppressors: 
The persistent presence and demands of Mengual's hierarchy and it's suffocating repression; the equivalent of the N.Y.P.D, 
the fear, the upturned noses, the sneers of
judgment and the HATRED. 

The fucking upper class that bought the majority of the L.E.S and the East village.

If you are an upper-class resident, or an officer for the N.Y.P.D. 
I would like to you personally and briefly address you...
You can kick my (then) boyfriend in his ribs while were sleeping on Seventh street (though we weren't in the way of anyone passing) hover above us there on that concrete, and Whine as loud as you can "I don't pay thousands to live here, to wake up to a bunch of junkies!"
Some rip our blankets off us in the middle of winter, throw bottles at us while were sleeping, make it illegal to give us money, food or anything at all, put spikes under bridges, put iron barricades on park benches, make it illegal to lay or sit on the sidewalk and call it "Obstruction". Make it illegal to sleep on the subway, call it "man spreading", put us on the Island for asking for a swipe at the turnstile and call us a "Transit Recidivist". 

You even have a specific Police unit that's sole responsibility- is to hunt us down, tell us we have the "option" of going to one of your designated shelters or bookings.

Then have the Gall to call it a "social service"!
Keep getting smart, be more creative, it fuels the fire. Go ahead and exhaust your resources you ignorant, greedy pigs and for what!?



Like Mengual, fled his oppression with his ideals in mind, only to be severely disillusioned; These comrades of mine quickly became  acquainted with the ways of the streets, the workings of them, at a rapid pace.

Oscar Wilde once worded it perfectly when he said 

“Anyone who lives within their means 
suffers from a lack of imagination.” 

How to survive, live and cope within the harsh conditions we did not necessarily create.
Cope with a situation that would land most people in Bellevue Psych Unit, if not the bottom of the East River if they were dealt a hand like ours. 

We're almost a different breed of human altogether.

For some of us, disillusionment and angst accompanied the thought of what they knew they would have to do;
But, they fucking did it, we did it, did it well too.  

Now, there are always exceptions to the rule.
 It's known. 
Of course one must mention the
freight train aficionados, they are very common among us.
Some of my favorite company.

The nomads, the wanderlust afflicted, or simply misplaced... Hoping out in Pennsylvania heading south for winter, hitchhiking or the Chinatown bus - they will be gone soon enough and return when they want or when they can.

Some may seem to be too young (GOT EM!) and it arouses your obligated sense of "Good Deed For the Day" you want to give them money, to take em back to your loft, you may be lonely or bored enough to take them home and fuck em. 
You'll say to yourself  "Poor thing... he must be hungry".

Yeah, bitch he's hungry alright.
Pull out your god damn wallet already. 

Don't waste time. 
Time is money;
Money we need.

Some are merely experimenting, making the arbitrary choices of youth. 
Some of them are young bucks that are getting in some rebellious kicks before running back to suburbia with their cock shrunken to their loving family. Some of these male comrades are actually sheep in a really shitty wolf apparel that usually has a label reading "Carhartt".

There are also the few sniveling cowardly parasites who have no ideals or moral compass and may never have had one since jump street. 
Some pull themselves out and shake off the grime and move on with their life and do relatively well, or not. 
They will spend it trying to forget and erase their experiences.
Fuck that noise. This has been a goldmine of suffering for a masochist poet. It also has lead to a deep compassion.
 That insight gave me an overall deeper understanding of the shadow.
I am what some call a door nail or a fixture.

I love New York and never felt at home anywhere else.

I came here on my one-way bus ticket with nothing and no one (second time I did this).
 Just forty bones, a liter of SKYY and a vague awareness of Tompkins Square Park, its whereabouts, and what goes on there.
 I knew I'd figure it out. Its what we do.

My choice on how to cope part is what almost killed me, not all of us have issues with drugs and alcohol.
But I did, I did before I came here and I still do, in a sense. 
I Stopped shooting junk for several reasons, but my dope habit is not what hurt me, not physically anyway. 

When the noise got too damn loud, when no shroud was shielding me from my reality. I had to something.

Once you have become a junkie, or "opioid dependent" and you stop,to put it simply; your brain is seriously pissed off. It will make demands, you will want to calm it down.
What's easy to get, cheap as hell and legal? 
That knarly stuff is legal.
Hmm. But marijuana is not?
 Our Government is a joke.
No further comment.

So it seemed an easy call at the time
So I drank, not the cute shit either. 

I drank and remained on the sidewalks up until January 2015; I drank all day and all night. Even having to sit upright in my sleeping bag before the sun came up to slow my hearts rapid pounding, silence my maniacal thoughts and steady my tremulous hands. 

The time I spent drinking was exhausting, at times- monotonous and truly baffling.
I make a much better dope fiend than a lush. 
My street family could attest to that.
I think one of them actually said that to me.

They were right.

Heroin kills you too.
Even if you do not over dose, or get a bad batch cut with meat tenderizer.
  It is a soul sucker, takes your humanity, your joy, your natural desire until all that's left 
is an insatiable need and that sweet, yet occasional apathy.

Towards the end of the spring in 2014, 

I was dying, I didn't know it though, not for sure, not until August.

I survived, obliviously. 

 I'm off dope, methadone, the matchstick boyfriend, cheap booze.I don't have to sleep on the street. I have a studio of my own now but I wouldn't go as far as to say that I'm off the streets.
The streets are not off of me

Those sidewalks, the subway tunnels, the entire N.Y.C. grid, are part of my circulatory system.

Besides, most of the friends, the people I slept near for years that haven't died or gone to prison are still out there. 
That's something that I still have not made peace with. I do not think I ever will, I don't think I should. Some would disagree. Fuck them.
They are still family, even the ones that distanced themselves, 
don't like me, or who refuse to forgive.
Those who hold to their anger like a loaded and cocked gun pointed right in my face.

I don't like thinking about the future.

But if it looks like I may be around for a while longer, maybe I'll volunteer or do some entry-level work at a youth drop-in or harm reduction center. Perhaps indulge one day in the ludicrous desire to finally go to college. Obtain one of those nifty masters degrees and put in a little shiny frame, hang it up in my pristine private office and Say condescending shit with a fake smile like 

"It's Dr. (Schootme Inthafayce)  Mary Catherine".

 It would be in psychology specializing in addiction and trauma.

I only know that for certain that
I will not stop writing. 
My brain would implode.

I've never left New York City, nor do I want to.

For me, this was destination number one and only. 
I may walk away-
 but never turn my back. 
I will take their side because it's mine as well.
I will bear the existential scar and bear it unafraid and without shame. 
I will tell the truth of it all; the cruelty, heartbreak, the loneliness, betrayal, suffering, but also our laughter in the face of total absurdity and yes the comradeship. 
It will always be a part of me, all for the better. 
I would not be me if I said or did otherwise. 
 I never want to forget that and I never want to forget my kin. 

As far as the Mengual's and Antoinette's, our real torture is having to live with the impossible ideals that have no place here.

We know, we sense it, we feel it, we live it...
Something is totally fucked about the world we live in.
Just like my historical figures doomed and anachronistic. 
We refuse to accept this. 
We may dull our senses, our rage, but it is ever present only dormant from time to time.
All we ever wanted was to live in a world that refuses to exist.

For this reason, we the outcasts, we the downtrodden, 

we- your fear,
we of the of the street;

Will welcome and recognize each other dirty hand in dingy glove.

- In Memory of my love, M.J.C. -

June 17th 1985 -  February 24th 2017.

Mary Catherine, Cowardice Queen

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