Complain if you will, but my friendship terms involve standards. Not for meeting social, financial or intellectual requirements. That shit, i don’t really give a fuck about. But how you carry on throughout our friendship & how you treat others….yeah, I take note of that shit. I store it all away, in my mental vault and refer to it from time to time. Whether we catch up daily, weekly, once a year or once every decade, it’s ALL there. Smoking pot in my past may have tainted parts of my memory but that little vault is bullet proof. Well, perhaps just THC proof. Ok, let’s be honest here, it is also occasionally prone to alcohol-induced floods 😉
Now, I’m a girl who gives absolutely EVERYONE a go. Five go’s even! Quite often, to my own detriment. But hey, it’s something I can’t change within me & that’s how I roll. I understand ppl fuck up. I fuck up. You fuck up. Even Ghandi has fucked up. The true test, for us all, is whether or not you continually keep repeating the same negative mistakes & behavioural patterns in friendships/social interactions or you move on & grow. Even the roughest piece of coal still harbours diamond qualities.
My friends (past & present) always laugh about the fact that I will always see the best in people. An old flame once commented that it would be quite likely for me to walk into a bar and strike up a conversation with the hunched over psychopath who is sharpening his knife in the corner, muttering to himself with a necklace of victims ears adorning his neck. All the whilst maintaining they are “misunderstood” and a “lovely person” deep down inside. What can I say? I love people. Love observing them, reading them, breaking them down and figuring out what makes them tick. What’s that you say? You just stole your grandmothers pension to fund a plane trip to the other side of the country to meet someone you met online whilst playing World of Warcraft? That’s ok, you’re probably “lost” & have insecurity problems. That’s why you did it, right? Yeah? Lame example, I know. But that’s a fairly good idea of how I may read the situation, if it were presented to me on our meeting. Either that or you’re an A-Grade c***. Let me determine that one over a beer with you 😉
Had I not had this perception of the world, I believe I would’ve missed out on some of the most memorable experiences of my life, with many a lost soul. I have mixed with celebrities, politicians, thieves, artists, murderers, paedophiles, elitists, junkies, athletes, the homeless, musicians, diplomats, bikies, Masonics, Evangelists, models, Satanists, healers, racists & everything else in between!!!! The memories, the stories and the experiences gained, leave me craving more. Some ppl I know consider humans to be a scurge on this planet we inhabit, and maybe some are *cough* Kim Jong Il *cough* Adolph Hitler *cough cough* Nicki Minaj. But all in all, we’re an interesting, somewhat lovable lot.
I remember a period of time in my life, where I was mixing with some “unfavourable” types. They were a group of young boys, aged 17-23, and really, really got up to no good. Why was I hanging around with them? Well, inititally I quite honestly detested them. They came around to visit my flatmate once to partake in a drink over a weekend (all 8 of them) and never really left my house. That “pop over for a drink” visit finally came to an end 2 flatmates & 1.5 yrs later. I really didn’t like them at the beginning. I was attending University and trying to get through my double degree, and they….well, they just sponged and drank, smoked and drank, slept, ate our food & then drank a little more. Fail! I avoided my house. I HATED going home, and often found myself just crashing at a friends house. By the third week of their stay, I had to bite the bullet, and go home and stay there for more than 1 day. That, my friends, is when I let my guard down a little and started talking to them and discovering who they were as people/brothers/someones sons/family/friends. They were ‘The Lost Boys’.
They all came from very broken homes. Since their early ages (4-6y.o.), they had all been taken away from their families for varied reasons & placed in many different foster homes & religious (not so) safe houses. Due to these rocky foundations (and for some of them, sexual abuse very early on in the piece) the only way they could show their anger or frustrations with society was through crime. Enter stage right, Juvenile Detention Centres. They’d do their time in the detention centre, be released back into society, maybe last 1 month on the outside & then be caught for a crime and sent straight back in to the centre. Once they were old enough, the detention centre soon became jail. I believe this is where the crossover of “homes” occurred for them psychologically. They spent so much time on “the inside” they formed a little family. They had relatives inside, mates, a bed to sleep in, 3 meals a day, all without having to pay a cent! They all felt quite uncomfortable being back in the real world, and would find themselves committing a crime just so they could go back inside to their comfort zone.
The pattern of going back & forth continued, up until the day I let my guard down. I would ask them why they did the things they did. I really believe it was the scneario of me putting my hands on my hips and saying “why don’t you just go out and get a job??” HA! I laugh now, because I look back on this day & really realised just how naive I really was. Their pained & desperate eyes just glanced up at me and then looked away. There was an awkward silence, which I soon muffled out with the sound of me pulling a cone, and then I walked over to the cd player and put some music on. I learnt later just how fucking impossible it is for young men who have spent their lives in juvy & jail to get a break from an employer who was willing to take a chance on someone with a very extensive criminal record. Even if they wanted to “turn their lives around” by carrying out honest work and strive for something positive, all they received were walls thrown up or doors slammed in their faces. After applying for 10’s and 10’s of jobs, in their brief moments back in the real world, they tended to get a little disheartened and returned to the only thing they’d come to know. Crime. They would steal money or items they could take down to the pawn shop and get instant cash. My eyes were beginning to open…
So lets backtrack a little. Prior to knowing all of this, the day I bit the bullet and returned home for more than one day to endure their presence in my lounge room, I had to leave home for an outing but had about $400 on me I didn’t want to carry in my wallet. My flatmate wasn’t home, but they were. They were strewn around my loungeroom (still) listening to tunes & drinking (still). I walked into the middle of the room and threw the wad of money on the floor, then asked “are you guys going anywhere today?” No, was the response I received, with all of their eyes darting back and forth from the money to me. “Well, I know I can trust that you guys will be here when I get back, could you please look after my money until I get home?” SILENCE. MORE SILENCE. “Are you sure you want to leave that with us?” one of the lost boys asked me. “Yeah. Why? Are you guys going somewhere?” GENUINE, BEAUTIFUL SMILES. “No. We’ll be here.” another replied. “thank you” I said, as I departed without a second thought. And that was it. I left my house & my money in a room full of homeless, desperate criminals to mind for me. But what I created was shock, confusion & absolute astonishment. They were flawed that I trusted them. I actually believe that’s the first time this had ever happened to them in a very long time….if ever. And so began, a very different friendship with The Lost Boys, the memories of which I will hold with me for the rest of my life.
Over time I warmed to them, without letting my narrow-minded judgements interfere with getting to know and understand the broken & tainted souls which had slipped into the cracks of society. You see everyone has a story. A history. Everyone has hopes and dreams. And everyone was once a little boy or girl growing up in this world in whatever environment fate supplied them. Each would sit with me when the others weren’t around, and tell me how much they hated crime and the inevitable outcome of returning back to jail. They wanted to break free of the rest (knowing that they could not maintain a crime-free life around the group). Each had their own little dreams of where they’d like to be in the future. I would join in with them in this imaginary world where we would go on vacations to big cities, sit on the beach and catch huge fish and discuss how we would cook it up on the fire. Go shopping and dress ourselves in the clothing we desired and then jump in the most prestigious of cars and drive back to our luxurious hotel, where we’d all get ready before spending the next 36 hours hitting many a nightclub. What fun we’d have! You see, no matter what your background is, no matter if you’re the lump of coal or a multi-faceted, glistening diamond, EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD IS ENTITLED TO DREAM, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE! It’s these dreams that sometimes keep you hanging on to whatever reigns of life we are issued at birth and grasp in our hands, until the day we cross over to the other side.
One of the lost boys dared to dream BIG. He wanted to break free of this life and walk on a new hassle-free path. He couldn’t read or write but with a lot of one-on-one chats, we discussed how he would go if he were to apply to college to study. We discussed what courses he may be interested in and what he’d love to learn about. There was a lot of negative self-talk on his behalf but we worked through it. It took a while but we got there 🙂 I believed in him & we were both quite excited at the prospects. One afternoon as I was sitting around playing cards in the loungeroom, he waltzed through the front door. A glint in his eye, and the most shyest of smiles. I was intrigued. I walked over to the fridge to grab another beer and he came over and whispered “I got in”. Huh? I was confused. Of course he got in, he just walked through the front door. He pushed a piece of paper into my hand and had a smile on his face that you’d imagine on children if they were given the keys to a toy shop and encouraged to run wild 🙂 Oh how I will never forget that moment. The pride, the happiness, the hope…..fuck……i just can’t explain it….. we were just so damn chuffed!!! I squealed with delight and threw my arms around him and was jumping up and down. Of course this piqued the curiosity of those in the loungeroom, and soon enough they were all wanting to know what was so exciting. We looked at each other, he started blushing, and I loudly announced that he was just accpeted in to college and was about to start studying a course he was intersted in. SILENCE. SNIGGERING. RAUCOUS LAUGHTER. DEMEANING SNEERS. MORE LAUGHTER. INSULTS. “Are you joking?? You make me weak! You’re too fucking stupid to go to college” LAUGHTER. “Just grab us a beer and sit down and start shuffling, you dickhead”.
That was the first & last time he ever dreamed.
He’s dead now. Most of them are.
Not long after that afternoon, things really started to spiral downhill for all of us. I had quit Uni, and got caught up in the chats and party lifestyle, and they…well, they never changed. I ended up leaving them all behind one morning. It was 6am, they were all asleep. I remember stepping over all of them as I packed a small bag to jump on a plane to fly interstate and to begin a new chapter (I will expand more upon this another time) & pick myself up and get back on track. I phoned my house a few days later, assuming they were still sitting in my lounge room awaiting my return. I was right. They picked up my phone and answered, as if it were their own house (cheeky fucks 🙂 ) and I spoke to them. They asked when I was coming home as they were all worried about me. “I’m not”. DISBELIEF. “Where are you?” they asked, still thinking I was joking. I told them that I’d left on a plane and was never coming back. SILENCE. I apologised feeling guilty as hell, but they knew I needed to do this to stay alive (once again, I’ll tell you the story another day). We said our goodbyes, and hung up. That was the day their safe-house and their loooooooooong stint at freedom came to an end. It was the longest time any of them had spent out of jail or a detention centre since they were kids. I wasn’t there to hide them & try and keep them out of trouble. Fuck I felt like shit. The guilt still plays on my mind from time to time. It was that easy for me to escape this life, and pick up a new one in another city. Not that easy for them. I got out. I escaped. I was FREE. They, on the other hand, would never be able to afford that luxury. Soon enough, they were all caught for crimes and were all back in jail. That is where this story ends. Most of them ended up hanging themselves. As I said, they were sick of this life. The same old pattern repeating itself since they were children. They were sick of being labelled dropkicks and spat on by society. They would NEVER get a break by “the man”. They were really victims to a fucked up glitch in this sysytem where if you have a bad history or past, you are forever labelled. No matter how much you want to change. They dont’ dare to dream or get their hopes up. Because the person they sit down with in a job interview, the lady at the shops, their neighbours, even YOU, will still judge them. You will back away from them and talk to them as if they’re a piece of shit or at least not honestly. I did, before I got to know them. You probably would too. There’s only so much judgement & negativity one can take before they throw in the towel. They called me from jail a few times. Wrote me letters. But soon, all of that ceased, and word got back to me of their deaths.
Promise me, after reading this, that if ever someone “unsavoury” ever crosses your path, if you have to talk to them, then please speak to them genuinely and treat them like a human being. Try not to automatically label them. Speak to them like they’re a good person. Even if it’s just for a brief moment. They really appreciate that, because chances are that the other 98% of people they will meet and society en masse is going to treat them like dirt anyway….