When You’re Homeless

You realize cheap knives are just as sharp as expensive ones when they come at you. 

“THIS MY F*CKIN ROAD” *He slashes a few inches away from my gut.

“Please, dude, stop. I’ll leave!” 

-I think I said this, but it may have come out as garbled speech.

“Want my air!? Tryna takes MY air?!”

Why did he put the “s” on “take?” That bothered the fucks out of me.

*He lunges at me but doesn’t thrust the knife this time. It was a scare-tactic. I feel my hand hit the tailgate of my 79 shit-brown El-Camino. “Thank God,” I say in my head. 

I scurry around the rear passenger side to get something between us and almost faceplant in the mud.

How did I get here?

Caught between a moonlit river, what seems like a disturbed, knife-wielding homeless man, and the winner of the ugliest car at Sylvan Hills High-School Award two years in a row?

I’ll get to that later. (Spoiler alert, I survive).

But right now, you need to know that all knives are the same when they’re coming at you. All cars are the same when their purpose is to create distance, whether inches or miles. Any phone is the best phone when the number you dial is 911 or home. 

We get caught up in the minor details of objects. Maybe we’ll see ourselves in our things if we make the details just right. Maybe we just need something to do, or someone to impress.

But the details only matter when we don’t NEED our things. 

A new car like the rich kids at school would have ruled. But I didn’t need it. 

At 16 years old, I needed God, Source, Buddha, or whoever to send me help. Instead, I got an ugly, steel car.

…And that ugly steel car could’ve stopped a bullet. 

I needed the police (or anyone) to subdue this guy who walked up on a runaway kid trying to pee before going to sleep on his bench seat. Instead, I got a mom who kept paying my phone bill, even though I ran away and wouldn’t pick up her calls. The best call I ever made was to ask to move back in with a parent.

I thought I needed “A good childhood” to be a normal, functioning adult. Instead, I got this memory that taught me in a kind of fucked-up way that our cars, relationships, and gym memberships (worth 0.00 for many of us) are worth how we use them, and they don’t have to be the newest or the flashiest to save our lives. 

A famous, wealthy sibling would be cool, but I got a brother I get to go party with at 90’s cover band concerts and see regularly. 

I could be a member of the flashy fitness club, but I go to a warehouse every day and work out on mediocre equipment with great people. And here I am, 33 years old, and most humbly, “still fit as fuck.” 

I don’t have a $70,000 truck. But I have a beat-up shit brown truck that’s sheltered me and even the guy who stole it, from the elements before I got it back and rebuilt it. 

And I’m wealthy beyond dreams because of this.

Because of all the less-than-ideal circumstances and imperfect stuff,

…That I used the shit out of.

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