I have been walking around the city for decades now. I see different people from different places doing different things. I see the changes we’ve made as a society and the changes I’ve made within me. I see the Kamikaze taxis weave down the avenues and watch the mindless tourists along 42nd. St with their eyes wide open, looking up, and totally amazed by the tall building and the lights from Times Square.
I see the mixture of random everyday people and businessmen in business suits, moving fast, with briefcase in one hand and newspaper tucked beneath the other arm. I see the serious-minded with serious intent, moving fast and head pushed forward, neck bent as they weave through the pedestrians to make their way to their ball and chain desk or their ball and chain lives.
I see the homeless of course, which has changed throughout the years. I see them sitting on their squares of cardboard boxes, holding cardboard signs that tell about their tragic existence. They sit with humbled faces, looking needy with a filthy donation cup in front of them.
The change I notice is most of the homeless are younger than me. It used to be I was younger but I am older now. Maybe I am more compassionate. Maybe I am more understanding of reality because anyone can be one bad decision away from finding themselves here, on the street, homeless, and hoping for some generosity. Maybe I am more cynical now too. Or maybe I’m just older . . .
I have been in this city for one reason or another since I was a kid. This used to be my playground.
And Times Square, hell, this was the first place I ever saw a prostitute. She had long legs, a short skirt, and big heels. Her chest burst at the seams and when she walked, I swear, she walked with a jiggle with the intended purpose to entice the perverted johns that walked the peep shows on Forty-Deuce near 8th Ave. I picked up my first fake I.D. in a little shop around this same time. We were young then. Crazy too.
It’s different now though. The theaters are gone, which is fine. Disney purchased much of the land and The Lion King has been playing here for several years now.
I have been spending more time in the downtown area for different reasons. It used to be my downtown life was a social thing. However, now my reasons are more professional. I see things so differently in my older years.
I see more about who I was and how I used to be. I remember my nights in the downtown places. I remember my best impression of being cool and me using my best James Dean approach, lighting my cigarette a certain way, dressing a certain way, standing with my back against the wall, and pretending that I didn’t care if I was ever noticed but yet, praying to God that someone beautiful notices me and hoping that I could be “Enough.”
If you would have told me back then that this would be me now, I would have never believed you. If you would have grabbed me 20 years ago and said these are the things I would be doing and this is where I would be in life, I would have laughed and said you were crazy.
20 years ago—
Hell, I was a scared kid. I was trying to fake it until I made it. I walked through the city and tried my best to “Be” me.
Meanwhile, I had no idea who I was. I was scared and scared to admit that I was scared. More accurately, I was petrified. I was intimidated by you and everyone else. I was desperate for love and yet intimidated by love at the same time because what if I found love and love didn’t love me back?
What if I took a chance and everything just fell apart?
I always think about when I first learned about the sober life. Someone told me it takes 5 years to get your brains back. This is because of the damage we caused. Then someone told me it takes 10 years to figure out how to use your brain. And then I was told after 15 years, we realize we didn’t need them in the first place.
I can’t say I ever agreed with that but I can say I understand. I walked around these streets trying to find myself for decades.
The truth is I never realized there I was, right here, and right where I was supposed to be. I was always looking for a sign. I was always looking for “Something” to happen, to signify a change was on its way. I thought I needed a sign to settle my fears. It turns out I am the sign. I am the one. I am me and I always have been.
My thoughts and my dreams as well as my hopes and aspirations have all matured but deep down, I have always been me. I always will be too
We have always been who we are, you and me, and no amount of pretending or acting will ever alter this fact.
As I see it, people go their entire lives and never embrace who they are. They live the wrong life with the wrong people in the wrong job and do the wrong things.
But not me. I can’t live that way.
As I see it, we evolve. Some evolve quicker, and some remain in their cocoon forever; afraid to evolve, afraid to admit who they are, and afraid to be themselves. They believe they are rejected for how they see themselves and live behind the façade of a mask and fake grins. I don’t want to be like that ever again.
I was down by 18th the other day. If you ever told me someone would want to give me my own show, I would have laughed out loud. Truth is this: This is always who I’ve wanted to be. It just took some time, maturity, a little sadness, a little suffering, a little struggling and some twist and turns to embrace this dream of mine.
Truth is my life began as soon as I chose to allow this to happen.
Truth is I’ve always wanted what I have now.
I was just afraid before.
I was afraid because what if I try and I fail?
What if what I want doesn’t want me back?
The way I see it is I can’t let my fate be up to someone else
This has to be up to me.
In fact, it is up to me
It always has been
I just needed to realize it