So, it’s six o’clock in the morning, and I’m sitting here at my dining room table which has become my de facto office/edit bay. And as I’m preparing for this last, very long trip, I’ve started thinking about life.
The woman I love is still sleeping with my baby getting ready to come, and I’m about to head out on the road for 26 days to film the last bits of Lost in America. And I think, now that it’s 6:30, this is the time I used to wake up at Lake Eola. The morning traffic would be rushing by, and I’d look up and see my grandmother’s light turn on. She’d probably be making her tea, getting her breakfast, then reading the paper. And I’d be just a few hundred yards away, using the same paper to dry off some of the dew that had settled on me the night before. Or most likely I’d be jumping up because I had to find a place to use the bathroom. The one thing I hated in the morning was those damn joggers. They all looked so happy and healthy, and I always woke up hungry.
But here I am now, sitting in my own place. And I’m drinking my tea, having my own breakfast. And I now have my own family who love me deeply. But now my thoughts are wondering to all the youth I’ve met and wondering where they are. Are they just waking up? It’s colder in some of the places they are than it was in Orlando. I couldn’t imagine waking up in San Fran, or Denver, outside right about now. I wonder are they ok?
We’ve lost track of some of them. We haven’t head from Calub, in Denver, for at least 6 months. No one knows where she is. We haven’t heard from Conner or Makayla since January, but I know we’re running up to San Francisco tomorrow to try and find them. It’s truly powerful what self-doubt, addiction, and shame can do to you. My mother was an addict, so I saw the ways she tried to escape the shame of knowing that she’d lost control of her life, so I can understand what they’re going through after the pain they’ve endured and why they’re running. But, they have family who love them dearly, who are desperately trying to find them. But neither one of them can face that now, which is such as shame. Then I wonder, who am I to say anything? Why would they want to hear anything different from me? If we do find them, what can we say to get them to see they aren’t stuck, that there is a way out?
All I know is when I was on the street, all I wanted was to be off the streets. And all I can think is that everyone of these youth feel the same way. All they want is a way to find hope again. To believe that there is something better for them. That the dreams that were beaten out of them by a parent who “hates gays”, or the hope that was taken away from them when their mother died on “Lifetime Support”, or the future they dreamed was stolen from them when their infant child passed in their arms, still exists. And that’s it right there, that’s the key to it, the truth to it. No child is on the streets because they chose to be. We all ended up on the streets because of something painful. For me, it was watching my mother waste away. Watching the cancer attack her spine and make her quadriplegic, taking the life from her. And if you take the time to talk to a youth on the street, and ask them, they’ll all have an equally painful experience in their life that forced them on the streets. And yes, sometimes you can say it was a choice. Cecil said it best, sure I had a choice, I could have stayed living with the father who had raped me since I was 5, sure I didn’t have to leave. But what kind of choice is that? …I haven’t heard from Cecil in a long time too.
But we’re about to head out, and I know I’ll see these youth again. I am optimistic. I mean Eddie’s off the streets, Sean has his own place now, so does Jenna, and Lexie’s about to graduate college. There is so much hope out there for these youth. We just have to share it with them. We need to remember these are just kids, and with a little help, a little love, they can find the hope they lost, and get to live the life they deserve, and get to be happy again…