Writing because I can't NOT write.
When I was 18, and immortal, I used to hitchhike by myself all over the county and beyond. I started hitchhiking earlier when I was around 16, maybe 17, to visit this guy I’d become penpals with. He was finishing up a short bit in a minimum-security prison farm about 30 miles from where I lived. After months of insanely long letters that all finished with the plea that I come to visit I took to the road.
The music is straight out of a James Bond movie car chase. Thrilling with soaring violins and fast edits to heighten the suspense. Zoom shots of the gazelle’s panicked eyes panning out to show the cheetah closing in for the kill. A driving drum beat underpins the action.
In 2007 I had finally earned that BA in Literature Writing and told my good friend Neil that I was considering a solo trip to Venice to celebrate. I’m not sure I’d have actually gone, but telling him took care of me waffling or backing down. The man is relentless.
If there’s a wrong way to do things, that’s the way I’m going every single time. Without fail. When I get off the subway, nine times out of ten, I turn in the wrong direction. I seldom know the answers to nearly anything I’m asked even if it’s “how are you?” That one always throws me. I never ask the right questions at job interviews, you know the insightful ones that the recruiters want to hear? I have zero retirement savings and I only brush my teeth at bedtime. I don’t floss.
There was that night about five years ago when our super, Kent (the best super in Harlem, btw), was relaxing after a long hard day taking care of his fifteen buildings when he was shocked to hear gunshots. It had been years since that kind of gun play happened around here.
When JJ, my $3,000 street rescue, took me hostage in 2005 she was possibly six months old and pregnant. After she had her litter of five, I began feeding her tiny cans of Fancy Feast because those hungry little fiends were sucking the calories out of her as fast as she could inhale them. If either my partner or I moved in the general direction of the kitchen, a gray blur would whip past us and if we actually went into the kitchen we would find Miss JJ on the counter on her hind legs with her front paws on the cupboard door.
I love babies but I can’t stand kids” That was my mother explaining why she was signing our family up to take in foster babies. Daddy didn’t question it. Anything that brought in even a little more money was welcome. He fixed cars at the local Ford dealership and in the summer would go back out after supper to paint houses. For awhile there, before it beat him up too badly, he was also doing second shift work as a dispatcher for a trucking company.
Every day I used to find myself surrounded by hungry, frightened people who were desperate to “fix” what’s wrong (now we're all socially distanced but I bet it's still the same, maybe worse).