How did it feel to stand on the street waiting for a date?


My feelings surprised even me

I know that the way I felt is not what people would expect. I would imagine that people would feel humiliated and ashamed, even to be seen by strangers. That’s what I would think but it was not this way for me. When I came to Hawaii after I graduated from college and got addicted to cocaine in New York, I did not know anyone. The newness of the place was what excited me. I had grown up with people who had adopted me but always indicated that they made a mistake. I was either ignored, or denied opportunities to leave the house for simple social events. Not that I was invited anywhere because I really did not have any friends until junior year of high school. Many summers and weekend nights I would sit alone in my room, without options, never having any new experiences. To be out at night, with no place I had to be, no one knowing where I was, no one to answer to, and no one looking to hold me back–it was everything I dreamed of and so very different from my previous life. When I was growing up I was perfectly responsible. I planned for the long term so I could escape that house to go to college. Everything mattered. I did not cut class, skip homework, ditch school. I never did anything one might expect of an adolescent because I was so laser focussed on my escape. I did not know that once I made that escape I would have a giant void in my life because there was no terribly important mission to accomplish. I had mental space to contemplate my social status, or lack thereof. When I saw that I was alone in college, and similarly friendless in my teaching job I felt ashamed that people would see that I had no family, nowhere to go on holidays, and they would look down at me. I was no longer stuck in a room. I went out and did things but I did them alone and sometimes people noticed. Then I came to Hawaii and discovered a subculture where people cared only for themselves. They were not looking at me and what I had or did not have unless it benefitted them. They conformed to the basic animal nature that I imagined existed within all people who really are out for themselves. Addicts do not sugar coat that reality. I could fit in and be welcome in the apartments of other users if I had drugs. And when I was out on the street I felt like I was on a grand adventure. An hour after I walked to the corner of A’ala Street and Kukui Street I could be on my way to the North Shore with a guy, or I could be in one of the empty offices downtown where daytime workers would never guess what goes on at night. Anything could happen. There was an endless parade of strangers and I never failed in my mission to have someone pick me up, that was how steady the traffic of men looking for street sex workers was in the late 1990’s. Instead of never meeting anyone or not being able to hold the interest of people I did meet, I met knew people every day and some of them came back and looked for me again. No one had ever, in my short life, ever, looked for me, sought me out. I felt special and important. In my young adulthood I did not know that men are not in the least bit picky when it comes to anonymous encounters and I was under the impression that I must be beautiful and desirable to always be desired. I did not know that the simple fact that I was available and willing was good enough for anyone. Finally, I did not know anyone and I was never an expert at relating to the people I did know. I had no worries about being seen by someone in a passing car since the majority of people looking at me were people who were probably looking for me or someone like me. It might be terrible to say it, but I enjoyed that life. Of course being in a place without gangs or gun violence probably was a big contributing factor. Nevertheless, I was happy, and I never thought beyond the next fix.

In a way it is strange to think of someone with my background being in that position but that is just looking at it from an education point of view. People of privilege end up doing what I did or doing it differently because they have money. In terms of past emotional issues, I had a lot in common with the people I met in addiction–everyone had their deep issues.

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