“The Sweet Taste Of Utopia Finally Revealed”
When I was growing up, I came from a poor family, to be honest, we were dirt poor. We didn’t mind though, we had each other and we loved each other in the best way we knew how. Sometimes as a family, we made bad decisions’, but we worked through those mistakes’ together. Mom would work when she could and at the same time attempt to raise four kids’. My father was a dairymen, so much of my younger life was spend on a farm, where my father milked cows’ for a living. I really never experienced the city life until I was about fifteen.
Growing up, my parents’ felt that learning about God and going to church was important for us, but they really never practiced what they preached. We were told to go to church, but they never attended with us, still we went and we learned about it. I personally wan’t interested, I always had this part of me that felt it was all fake. Later, when I hit thirty, I finally sobered up from a life long drug and alcohol addiction. This is when I had to depend on a God in order to change my life. When I first sobered up, I was fresh off of the street. I had been homeless for quite some time, panhandling for alcohol and tabacco. I was full of fear, and self preservation was the only thing that dominated my every thought and action. On the streets’ there are simple rules’ to live by. The most important? Don’t get mad. The second most important? If you can’t carry your load, then its not really yours in the first place. That literally means, if you have to hide your things because its too heavy to carry and someone else finds it, don’t be mad. You let it go, because if it was important, you would have carried it with you instead of hiding it under a bush. The third most important rule?Stay healthy and don’t get mad, fighting is not good on the streets’. It harms you physically, and being hurt and homeless is dangerous. Your safety and your health always come before anything else, and that means avoiding conflicts’ and crazy people.
In California, I remember homeless people sleeping on Venus Beach, and on the grass at Lincoln Park in Long Beach. I never saw a movie star and I was never able to enjoy the good life. Hollywood is tensile town, because of all the syringes’ found in the alleyways, not because of the fame. If you want to see the famous people in Los Angelos, you go to Beverly Hills. Memories’ are all I have now, and the memory of seeing a homeless old man sitting on a bus, while a younger homeless man ties his shoe, catches your attention. Those three simple rules’ I spoke of didn’t just come to me either. I learned them from another man. The same man who taught me how to panhandle. At first my pride prevented me from doing that, but as I became more desperate for money, I caved in and began to do it. I learned, in order to get money, I had to sacrifice, and that means getting rid of old ideas’ of right and wrong. I began to see how the city of Los Angelos wanted the homeless to disappear. They wanted them down by the Los Angelos River, out of sight and out of mind. Instead of taking care of the problem, it was forced onto the streets’ of downtown. To take care of the urine and human excrement, the city put outhouses’ on the corners’ of skid row. I watched the paddy wagons’ drive up every three hours’, arrest drug dealers’, and move on. It was a rotating door, where the dealers’ were replaced, just as fast as they were picked up. There was always a dealer on the corner, no matter what.
The battle between good and evil isn’t fought in the church, in the house of representatives’ or the senate. Not even in the White House or the Department of Justice. Crime is so fluent and the homeless issue is so overwhelming, the court system can't even handle it. The battle between good and evil is on the streets’, because the law does not exist there. Monsters’ prey on the streets’, looking to devour the weak, steal what they can and destroy what little the homeless do have. Thugs’ rob the homeless for drug money, cops’ destroy homeless camps’ and beat those that sleep in alleyways’. There are no laws’ for the homeless, because neither the court system or law enforcement care about these people. The best solution from these two organizations’ is to arrest the homeless, at least they have a place to stay for awhile.
I wouldn’t go to homeless shelters’, because it interrupted my drinking time. Out of all the experiences’ I had, I can now take responsibility for my own behavior and admit that. Even so, I can not say that the other things’, outside of my own self, is justifiable either. There are so many homes in this country, that are just sitting empty, that could take care of the homeless problem easily. During those days’ I wanted to sleep in stairwells’ and behind shrub trees’. I didn’t want to listen to a preacher talk about God for an hour before we ate. Sleeping at a shelter was also unappealing to me, because the thought of standing in line naked with fifty other guys’ made me feel like I was less than human. I did on occasion though, but that was only because I was tired and worn out. A bed, shower and food in my belly seemed good at the time. Pride creeps up on you though, after sitting on toilets’ without stalls’ or toilet seats’. In some jails’ they do that as well, they don’t want you to feel welcomed. They want you to get busy and move on. When I started feeling better though, I wanted to do things’ my way, and drinking was an unquenchable thirst.
When panhandling, I would walk the alleyways’ searching dumpsters’ for clothes. I also checked cracks’ and crevices’ in order to find crack pipes’ and roaches’, dropped on the ground. Most drug addicts’ hide there pipes’ in the grass-line though, next to buildings’ and houses’. I remember watching people sit down and run their fingers along the edges’ of a building and move over when when they were done there. The messed up part, every person who did it, tried to be sneaky, like nobody knew what they were doing. I knew people that walked up and down the alleyways’ looking for money, and the dope man would be at the end of the alleyway waiting. Selling a nickel for ten, and some even let you hit the pipe for two dollars’. I had friends’ who were straight males’, selling their ass for drug money. We would barter, they would sell their ass, me and the others’ who panhandled would beg for money, and we all met at a spot. Spots’ were where we met to do our drugs’ and drink, someone always’ had to go and get the dope too, then bring it back to the spot to share. If you weren’t there, oh well, you got there when you got there. If times’ got hard, (which was usually in the morning), I had my routes’. I would walk around looking in ashtrays’ for cigarette butts’.
I remember a homeless shelter in Orange County, that I once slept in for a night or two. I woke up one morning and took a shower, went to breakfast and stepped outside. I saw this beautiful redheaded woman, who had just taken a shower. She was dressed and combing her hair as she was walking away from from the shelter. Just outside of the fence. Her hair was still wet, but I could tell it was long and curly. What caught my eye, was when she waived her hair to the side so that she could comb it. Her face was as beautiful as a goddess, and my only thought was, “how could a girl so beautiful be out here on the streets’?”… Homelessness, does not discriminate, it is something that happens to every race, gender, and age. Taking care of yourself and your looks’, have nothing to do with your situation in life. With that said though, I still saw entire families’ out on the streets’. Later, I realized when I thought back on that, my life wasn’t so bad after all. There are plenty of children who were raised in the streets’ and don’t even know any other way of life. How can anyone know that one plus one equals two, if they were never taught that?
Finally, after begging my ex-girlfriend for money and getting her to agree to sending me a bus ticket. I left Los Angelos and was on my way to Kansas City, I remember feeling as though a weight was lifted off of my shoulders’. In my mind, Kansas City wasn’t as bad as Los Angelos, how far from the truth that was. I had to relearn how to hustle all together. People in Kansas City will give you change, where people in Los Angelos, game you one or two dollars’ and sometimes five. On the phone, I asked my ex-girlfriend if she would let me move in with her. She only responded with, “we will talk about that when you get here.” I should have known what that meant when I heard it, but I didn’t. I assumed we would be living together, but she told me as she drove that wasn’t the case. If I wanted to be in a relationship with her, I had to go into rehab and get my life straight. At first I rebelled, refusing to go into treatment.
I had previously gone to detox, (three times’), and that didn’t sober me up and always refused going to treatment too. I had to relearn how to hustle in Kansans City though and I did, so much that it almost killed me. I would sleep in parking lot garages’, but the sound of horns’ blowing, (telling me to get out of parking spaces’), started to get on my nerves’. I would also sleep in alley ways’ or behind clubs’ in Westport, but all of this wasn’t working out either. It was allot colder in Kansas City, than what it was in California. The cops’ would kick me out of parks’, when I tried to sleep in the playgrounds’ and on the benches’. I soon began to sleep in the woods instead. At first the police told me to move on, but soon, I was finally arrested. I urinated behind a tree at a local seven eleven, across the street was also a police precinct with cameras’ that watched me as I did it.
As me and the officer walked across the street to the precinct, she ran my name. By the time I made it to the holding cell, they found my bench warrant, and I had to stay for court. It was a little embarrassing when I had to stand in front of a television screen the next day. As the judge read off the charge of exposing my genitals’ in public, but hey, I didn’t really care all that much. It was a place where I could sleep, get something to eat and so fourth. It was weird too, how when I was homeless, I was cold. When I made it to the Jail, (nick named The Hog Farm), it became extremely hot. Probably, because there wasn’t any air conditioning in the entire complex. Except of course where church members’ would visit, to talk about changing your life and being a part of God’s plan. At least in that jail, we were allowed to go outside onto the grounds, behind a fence of course. There was a basket ball court with a circle trail around it, where inmates’ walked to pass time. When I found out about air conditioning though, I couldn’t wait until Wednesday.
So far at this point, after returning to Kansas City, I met a few people who still come to mind to this day. There was a nice guy at a store that I was panhandling near, who gave me money. I had promised him that I would not to use the money for alcohol and of course I lied. As I walked into the store to get some cheap beer, the guy drove around the block and went into the store behind me. He found me in the liquor isle before I could get alcohol, and walked right up to me. I saw him and he asked, “I thought you weren’t going to get alcohol with that money?”, I was caught… Instead of wanting the money back though, the guy drove me around to every detox center looking for a place for me to get into. I didn’t want that, so all the time I was thinking of ways in which to ditch the guy. I wanted to do it with a little bit of self-respect too. Go figure, a homeless drunk, wanting self-respect. At the time though, I was also a little emotional. Just before this incident and on the same day something else took place. A man told his daughter to give me a hand full of pennies’. She couldn’t have been no more that five years’ old. I broke down and started to cry and in a drunken slumber I gave the pennies’ back, with tears’ in my eyes’. Something about that hit me hard, and I couldn’t handle it. Even after both of these incidents’occurred, I still wasn’t ready to sober up. I ended up in jail, waiting for Wednesday, so that I could sit in an air conditioned room. God didn’t even fit into the prescription at this point.
Wednesday came and I sat in that room and listened to every word. I had to stay for ten days’ so I was able to listen to it twice. By the time I was released, I began to pray on my knees’ beside my bunk every night. I also read the entire New Testament, within those ten days. I fell in love with the gospels’, and I became, (what I have termed as), God happy. Being homeless, I figured I would go out onto the streets’, collect Bibles’ for free and hand them out to the homeless. When I was released, the grey goose dropped me off on the corner in front of the courthouse in downtown. I was given a brown envelope with all my possessions’ as I left the bus. The other inmates’ who were released that day, suggested that I go into the courthouse to check and see if my charges were taken off the records’. Before I even did that though, out came my tobacco and I rolled my first smoke. You would think that being in jail and going without had made me decide to quite drinking and smoking, but it didn’t. A week later I was drinking again. I was at a bus stop waiting for a bus and the urge came on me. It was quick and fast. At that moment the only thing that I wanted to do was get drunk. Not drink, I wanted to get drunk and nothing else. I didn’t want a buzz or the warm fuzzy feeling you get, I wanted a black out and nothing less. Even when drinking though, I talked about God.
I was delusional and filled with religion, debating with people over if God existed or not. I sat one day with a guy talking and drinking a forty ounce of Colt-45, when out of the blue he said, “If you believe in God why are you doing that?”, I looked down to where he was pointing at my beer and lifted it up into the air. I responded with, “ I will never let this come between me and God.” A week later I was in treatment. After about a week of sitting around in an old neighborhood I lived in, talking about God and getting drunk. I decided to wake up one morning and go downtown to a place I had heard about, to get a job. I took the bus and as I got off the bus, it began to rain. There wasn’t any place in which to get out of the rain, so I had to let it pour down on me as I walked. Being drenched in rain and wet, I sat in front of Catholic Social Services’, until they were open. I got in and put my name on the list to see a counselor about getting a job. I had to wait for a couple of hours’, until a short little black woman came out. See took me to her office and asked me what I wanted. I started telling her and when I was finished she said, “Roger, I am not impressed with you one bit. I asked you what you wanted in a job and you started wondering off in all different directions’. I can’t get you a job, but, I can get you help. Would you like some help?” That day I went into treatment and the adventure began for me. I have had no greater task than just staying sober, and life is way crazier sober than what it ever was when I was drinking. I could give you my whole story while being sober, but I am not going to do that. I am going to tell you what I learned instead.
I learned that in order to change, you have to learn to believe in things’ that you don’t want to believe in. Even if you think that its nothing but lies’, tell yourself the lie until you believe it is true. Our minds constantly lie to us, so when its a rainy day, tell yourself that its a beautiful day. Soon, every day is a beautiful day. I have had issues’ with the idea that everything is beautiful, but, I do know what the meaning behind it is. Everything is a process, if things’ aren’t going the way that I want them to go, that is alright. For things to work out in life, sometimes the best thing to do in situations’ is just suite up and show up. Focusing on the task at hand, is a vary important thing as well. For me it was not a one day at a time thing. I had to go moment to moment, and work on whatever was in front of me. Then move onto the next task, and don’t skip any task that I have. If I can prevent it. If I can’t get that task done, that day, add it to my tasks’ for the next day. Moments’ add up to days, days add up to weeks’, weeks’ into months’ and months’ into years’. If someone interrupts me in a conversation, its not something to get frustrated over. That just means’ that person had something more important to say. I hate hearing people talk, but while being sober, I have learned how to listen. I hate watching how others act, but I learned that I don’t have to say anything, when I am upset by other people and their actions’.
I prayed when I didn’t want to, and I asked for God to give me things’ that he never gave me. Instead, I stayed sober, while he took my old life away and gave me a new one. I didn’t want what he gave me, nor, did I expect what he gave me, but none the less it is all new. I have a life with my family, where before, I had no life with my family. I get aggravated because I have to clean up after my mom and mop up her piss when she looses bladder control. I get aggravated when my brother, who is mentally handicap talks to me about crazy things, but I have these things’ now. I listen to others’ too, and I can hear what they are saying. As my mom talks about God and meeting her maker when she passes away. I think about the people I talk to who bashes religion, and I know that they haven’t spend much time with their parents’. These people most likely, have their parents’ in nursing homes’ away from them and their children. After all isn’t that where they belong?
I have memories’ of my ex-girlfriend and how she didn’t let me live with her, and how I begged God to be with her again. I also remember the nights’ that I got drunk and she had to sleep in her car on work nights’, because I was out of control. She saved my life, because without her I would have died. I remember that little kid who gave me her pennies’ every time I play with my nephews’ and nieces’. I have that now too, when I know that I could have never had that before, while I was drinking and doing drugs’. I lost the opportunities of being a live in father because of my own defects’ and addictions’ as a young man. That messed me up for a long time, yet, I can talk to my son now, and tell him that I hold no grudge against his mother. Even though she left me while she was pregnant, and lied to me about where she was moving to. Leaving no information behind about my son, not even his name. About four years’ ago, I was able to make contact on the computer with my son for the first time. My sisters’ both looked for his mother, when I had long since given up. I learned what his name was and that was the greatest thing in the world to me. I have another son also, who’s mother denied me of my rights to see my son, since the day he was born. Making threats’ that if I did come to see him, out on her parents’ property and in the country, I would be arrested. Because of her addiction and denial to prescription drugs’, my son is now a ward of the state. Living with his grandparents’, while I get supervised visitations’. I learned that if I was still doing drugs’ and alcohol, I could never have handled this situation. I have also noticed that I have become the same person that I had once hurt in the past. My victims’ that consisted of old relationships’, family and friends’. It is strange how the shoe is on the other foot, and we always seem to pay for our transgressions’.