Hey, do I look like a Wall Street trader down here?
When you're a bum in the eyes of society you see the worst of the worst, nobody fears you. People come along, disabuse you as if it's their God-given right, ripping into you how you are the source of all the worldly woes and that you can go to hell you worthless bum. They say things they'd never say to the true culprits. You can see their eyes light up when they see you: "Now here's someone I can treat like shit and no one will say anything!" They are no different than the people who abuse them.
Predators, each and everyone - but to whom can I complain? All the vampires and zombies stick up for one another. They have some sort of social standing but in their hearts they too are bums. So seeing us drives them crazy with fear and angst and a desire to destroy us like crime scene evidence. But if you tell anyone this they think you're imagining it or something and at most you'll get a polite nod of the head as they scramble to get away.
So you hang out with the people who don't need this explained to them - your fellow bums - and commiserate in that bond. But it gives you the feeling of walking in a permanent jail. You can be picked on anytime by the jailors and nobody will say a word. You know the abuser's mantra: STFU, you're lying about your pain, be happy with the abuse. Ah, just like home!
Still, even now with a humiliating crap job (since all jobs are humiliating) I feel no different now than when I was on the street and living in the homeless shelter. What am I doing with my life? I'm still just a bum. It amazes me anyone can build any sort of life on this cutthroat planet. They must either be Jesus or heaped with blessings from on high to have pulled off such a feat. Don't they know it's liars who run this world and life can only be built on the truth? Yes, it's a helluva thing to make a life.
Sometimes my world and the living world cross paths - and disaster ensues. I'm pretty rigid in keeping the living people out of my life. They are a danger for me. Still, the allure is irresistible. About four years ago a shelter volunteer named Amelia started to bond with me - and I her. It was obvious we lived in two different worlds but the more I talked with her the more I wanted to be in her forbidden world. It got to the point I allowed myself to become dependent on her visits which I knew one day would stop as a matter of natural course.
So I poisoned her visits and she stopped coming, sending me into a guilty tailspin from which I have yet to recover. Even had she said yes, no way could I allow my presence to trespass in her life. I couldn't let her present me as the "bum she knows", dripping shame all over her pristine carpet. No way could I live with soiling her home as precious as she. This whole disastrous affair is what happens when I let these two worlds collide. Dear God, what a holy nightmare.
So I went back to the frenemy street where I have heavily decayed. I was so anxious to appear and be respectable for Amelia I took a (soul killing) job and decided to do my best to pose as a successful member of society. I figured maybe then I could walk into her house with a clear conscience. I figured wrong. Having a goddam job that means nothing to you doesn't make you a true member of society. Now I feel both a bum and a liar, further away than ever.
I think of Amelia almost every day, wondering what I could have done differently. I can't sleep more than two hours at a time, waking up in a dripping sweat, forever cut off from those I love most. My health is deteriorating anxiously. Surely, not even my cursed life was meant to be this hellish. That's about all I can come up with as an answer. All roads lead to the cage of guilt as far as I can see. It was only the times I spent with Amelia I did not feel a bum.
So needless to say, after this monumental fiasco the idea of letting worlds collide ranks as That Which Most Needs To be Avoided in my life. But, boy, is it ever hard to fight the yearning to live! John Lennon once said that whoever it was who was posing in his life as his guru - whether it was the Maharishi or primal screamer Janov or anyone else - there came a time when they blew it and couldn't resist the urge to live and drop their mask. And sure enough, I too had something come along to blow my cover in irresistible fever.
I am a lifelong Yankee fan, enthralled since I was a kid. Lou Gehrig is my all time favorite player and I get a lump in my throat every time I hear his farewell speech. But I also have a strong affection and great admiration for the current Yankee captain, Derek Jeter. He always says the right thing, hits the right notes, a consummate professional on the field and a driving force to win in the clubhouse. The chance of meeting him caused me to blow my rules out the door.
"Don't do it. Don't do it." "Why not?? Why can't I? I want to soooo badly. Just a few moments in the sun!" After my behavior with Amelia, how can I ever trust me again? But mad desire brushed all that aside and I found myself talking myself into certain disaster once more. Something's got to give here, folks.
It was a bitter, boiling path. My little voice assured me all along that God would never allow this meeting to happen after they way I shit on the previous gift of Amelia. Not only that, the meeting was through my backstabbing sister from whom I had to cut off relations ("You're a bum! I have to run your life!" Everyone wants to rule the world.) It was to be at this (large) family's house and since I knew the time and place I could not help but to invite myself, sister's presence notwithstanding. Boy, talk about fighting a lot of headwinds!
I'd never been so uneasy in my life as when I walked in that door. Talk about feeling like a trespasser! It was like walking onto another planet. I feared the kids the most, they've least learned yet to lie. I was helpless like a fly caught in a spider's web of pain. I could barely see or talk. How could I explain my life or who I was or my plan for shameful me to steal a moment from Jete Man's life? Every instinct told me to run the hell out of there and get some oxygen quick. Still, I resisted.
In the huge front living area neither Jeter nor my sister were present. They were back in the kitchen concocting something. The house was warm and lived in and I feared my selfish presence a confusion for them. I tried not to make eye contact but that only made things worse not facing their true thoughts. Would anyone have the strength to be straight with me and tell me if I was not wanted? I just needed to fight the upstream current, make my way to the holy grail of the kitchen and then get the hell out of there.
But I knew God couldn't trust a sinner like me with such a blessed event. Like the vanishing elves in the Hobbit whose presence exists only in the corner of your eye, my sister and Jeter were perpetually in the place where I was not. I was stuck drowning in a foreign land where the kids popped up like land mines in the Afghan desert. Finally, I gave up, feeling the anti-Caesar: I came, I farted, I fled. Great, more people to loathe me on sight. Back to the hell of darkness for me.
I'm between every world now - and a traitor to each. My old street bums fall for the same illusions I did when I had nothing: anywhere out of the street you've got it made. But I certainly don't have it made. I must sacrifice myself to stay in this two bit apartment and lie my ass off on a daily basis.
Weirdest part is sometimes I (guiltily) enjoy the lie. It comes at the little moments, like when standing in line to get tickets at the movie theater. When I did that before, when I was destitute and rejected for employment, I felt an invisible sin shrouding me that no one in the world could possibly see or understand. It was the most isolated feeling you can imagine. But now when I'm in line, I secretly thank God I'm not that person anymore. I'm legit! At least in the eyes of society.
It's leaving the theater that now haunts me. I think, "I must get home." But where is home? The lying is eating me alive and I'm too tired to go back to the street. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.