I Hated My Family, So I Started Hanging Out With Homeless People
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Most of my life I’ve been living with my grandparents, ‘cause my mother had me at a very young age and she wasn't ready to handle the responsibility. When I was 13, my mom decided she was ready to take me back. So one day she pulled me out of school, took me home to pack a single duffle-bag and dragged me out to Texas. I remember that the second we got in the car and started driving away from the grandparents’ house, I started crying because I felt that my life is gonna be flipped upside down.
My new home in Texas basically reminded me of a military boot camp. My parents were divorced, but they were still living together, along with my stepdad. They thought I was being spoiled all my life. So, they made me do all the dishes, cook and clean everyone’s rooms, to “teach me responsibility and respect”. Also, my dad was very aggressive, and he kept punishing me. They have never tried to listen or speak with me. Things got even worse when my parents found a pack of cigarettes in my backpack. They got really pissed and said, “If you don't want to learn, then you can work”. So, I found a job at a fast-food chicken place. I dreaded going home, so I started spending time at the park, which was close to my work. One day I noticed a few homeless people there, so I just walked up to them and asked for a cigarette. That’s how our friendship began. It started as a mutually-beneficial relationship. I would bring them leftover food from my job and they would buy me cigarettes. I got along the most with Danny. He was ex-Navy, and a Korean War veteran. I used to just ask him to tell a story, and we'd be there for hours, sitting at a park bench smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. I enjoyed spending time with them because they were SO INTERESTING! God, the stories they could tell! I was happy to have someone that had enough patience to tell me stories and answer my questions.
And here came my 16th birthday. That day I went to the park, to be with my homeless friends. Turns out they had a surprise for me. They took me to the local grocery store and let me pick out what toppings I wanted for burgers. They paid for everything themselves, refusing my money. When we got back to the park, there was a cake waiting for me. I remember I was crying. I’ve never felt that anyone cared about me so much. It was even more special because these people had literally NOTHING. We cooked our burgers on the permanent, disgusting grills that were installed in the park. When I was blowing out the candles, one of them pushed my face into the cake. We had a goddamned party. It was my best birthday, because of the feeling of friendship that I felt that day, that I had never felt prior or since.
A few months later, me and my family moved to Albuquerque. Before that, I did manage to sneak out and say goodbye to my friends. I miss them, and all the experiences I had. They cared about me in a way my parents never did. These homeless people taught me a lot about myself. I wouldn’t change a thing, because then I felt a kind of love and friendship that only comes once-in-a-lifetime.
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