The morning breaks through her Brooklyn window. It is my first free morning, my first real hint that the catastrophe of the last two years is finally over.
My eyes focus, the sleeping smile besides me rolls over and takes all the blankets with her… fucker.
It’s now just turning 7a.m. but I feel as if I’m on borrowed time, as if at any moment a guard is going to come trampling in through her French doors telling me that my time is up, that I have to go to the cell next to her beautiful bedroom, strip down, bend over, cough to make sure I’m not returning to my block with anything concealed in my asshole, then march me back to my pod.
The winter air hangs gray over the warehouses that line her street. I grab my boxers lying next to the bed and head for the dining room to put on a cup of joe and straighten out some thoughts. Turning towards the kitchen, a sudden surge of confidence comes over me as I close her doors behind me because I realize that I can damn well sneak back into bed with her if I really wanted to. I don’t have to have some validated reason for doing the things that I do. My sole responsibility again is to just be, to simply follow any inclinations inspired by my invisible guttural pulls.
I am free to do what I wish with my life.
That’s why I woke up the way I did today.
These last three months forced me inward; they dropped my foundations from under me like a sack of kittens being thrown into a river. I was encased within; a person had to peel back many layers to find me in there. If they were going to keep me physically, it was my responsibility to defend myself intellectually. I dug into their trenches and kept my mind free.
Institutions are good for only one thing, rigid discipline. They are places and ideas in which you have to defend your actions and thoughts as an individual against people who care only for the continuation of function. Discipline is good but should only be necessary when the work of producing and staying sane bears it’s full weight on your shoulders of your own volition. Disciplined work comes naturally when you take pleasure in having control over your own time and challenges.
That was something I never forgot in that damn place.
A few hours pass by with just my thoughts and some classical music. I alternate between coffee and water to balance out. The creaking of the French doors pulls my focus away from my words, she enters my makeshift sanctuary in the corner by the window wearing only a silk robe...
I follow her back to her bedroom with a smile.
Anther few hours pass through time.
“I really have to start getting ready for work,” she recalls as she stands fully nude before me, “but I don’t want to.” She turns to the vanity and begins shuffling through drawers.
Her skin, fair and freckled, is calling me, beckoning my hand to explore every inch still not memorized. I want to travel, want to go places I’ve never been before. I want to reach a place of sensation inside her skin that introduces me to who I might be in some better, more brilliant future. A smile appears on her face, she knows I’m watching her. Our eyes meet and a giggle playfully passes her lips, filling the air between us with an image of sound as beautiful and delicate as a water lily floating to the surface of a black pond on a still and lonely night.
She believes in me, trusts the way I look at her. Two minutes around her feels like an hour. I think we’ve known each other a few lifetimes by now.
We were never meant to be strangers, none of us were.
As she begins to get dressed, I continue to watch, poking fun at how unorganized she is as she flings clothes in every direction.
“You know... matter is most stable in a chaotic state,”
“Think about who you’re telling this to girl. Of course I know this, life is chaos but your damn room should be organized.”
A pair of pants flies dangerously close to my head.
The simple irony of this can’t escape me. She’s getting ready for her job at a large fashion house while I, her adored, is about to spend my first day out of jail... yet she speaks to me of chaos. It doesn’t surprise me. Her stability is rooted in grand sweeps of dysfunction. She keeps busy to mortar the bricks dropping from the sky, I dance underneath them trying not to get caged in.
There was a snowstorm that blew into Brooklyn last night blanketing the runaway concrete. It gives this boro a very virginal feel. The morning rush has since turned this immaculate canvas into a grimy, slushy mess. I lie still on her bed as the snow’s reflection illuminates her room bringing with it an almost holy glow that opens the moment to biblical proportions. Her own reflection is now following her lead.
Freedom in the morning is the strongest stimulation I’ve ever had the pleasure to ingest. It washes away the stench of tyranny like lye on a soot covered face. It’s a drug that makes you feel shiny as well as energized. I’ve waited for this to return to me, knew deep down that if work was done, if I kept busy enough, time would move me along. The next stage of my life will always need to happen regardless of the periods spent delayed en route. Sometimes, just sometimes, that delay is the catalyst.
Time as an object can only be stolen if you allow the outside world to control the way you view it.
Jail tried to steal my moments from me, it tried to harness my anger and rage and force them to make me succumb to them, they wanted an animal… but I stayed all too human in there.
This is why what you have in your hands was made. It was my tool, my weapon that defended my mind and thoughts inside this place that was at every interval of time trying to influence all that I did with the very ideas I’ve been fighting against during my stay in this country.
The only people that have ever called me anything but American were the ones that made me feel shame about calling myself one.
I wrote this not as a South American stuck in the cracks of the immigration system but rather as an American viewing the fruits of his country’s failures. It was this country that had taught me the spirit of rejecting its ways, of rejecting what was unnatural to me.
If you live to their definition of a person you become automated in action and thought. Individualism is a major threat to the umbrella of power yet it is the very thing that makes us unmistakably American. It is that gust of rain soaked air bursting from the narrow alleyways. We all could blow the whole thing inside out if we felt so inclined. Problem being, we never feel inclined to do much of shit these days.
I began early, skateboarding by twelve, elbows deep in hip hop by thirteen, independent and alone by sixteen and a dropout from school just around the same time. During the first years of my twenties I barely had a job, if I did I only kept it for a few months at a time. The living was easy back then, living in a small college town cost a whopping 75 dollars a month. After I moved from there, I would spend only half of the year in whatever city I decided to call home, Minneapolis, Chicago, Brooklyn, travelling by bike for the remainder of the year. This only working in the winter time so I can expand my summers fueled a power surge inside the ideas behind who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.
It’s been a boxing match ever since.
Nobody wants you to have it easy, nobody wants you to succeed at being yourself unless they themselves have succeeded at preserving their own sense of self. Our country has become a coliseum for would be gladiators to fight it out to the death. Who will drop their sword first to allow the real fighting to commence?
They released me from that New Jersey jail just twelve short hours ago, in the middle of the northeastern winter with only a hoodie and a pair of thin, ripped jeans… no money, no phone, I then walked out into the dark and cold semi-freedom of a much bigger cell.
The night was freezing every inch of skin it could cling to but the thought of seeing her so soon kept my slightly larger than usual muscles warm as I waited for Rogers from Elite Couriers to come pick me up. Rogers co-owns the company I rode for when I was schlepping packages up and down that damn island of Manhattan. Rogers is a good friend as well as an amazing boss, one of the only people I know who understands the nonsensical actions of humans because he has known and been close to so many nonsensical humans. They are flawed and will never change that but as a whole they are worth putting up with.
“So, how many jail rescues does this make for you? Just how many messengers have you had to pick up looking all pathetic and shit?”
“Not a lot but enough. Seems like our kind finds its way in sometimes, some it changes for the better, some for the worse. Fuck it, you seen this yet? ”
He hands me a copy of the Voice with my picture top to bottom on the cover.
“Holy shit. Didn’t think my ugly ass would look this cute on print.”
I realized this was the real reason I was out. My community made enough of a stink to get me seen by the whole city even though I had spent the last few years traversing every square inch of it basically invisible to it.
I’ve been riding off and on as a messenger for Elite for about five years now and during those five years I gave Rogers, his partner Sonny and our trusty magician in dispatch, Terry, more than enough headaches through my youthful chaos and often with my misadventures. I was constantly having excuses not to work. The way I figured it, if my rent was paid for, why not give the other guys a chance to make more money? They had kids to feed; I only had myself to keep sheltered and drunk, or intoxicated in other ways. The weight of work, life, loves and ideals have always given me a good excuse to go nuts.
It was this job and a few others like it that have come before it that brought me into the culture of cycling. I had found others like me that couldn’t give half a shit about someone else’s idea of success. As long as we weren’t homeless… we were winning.
The wonderful irony of them trying to deport me is that ever since I became conscious of my life and thoughts surrounding it, I’ve been racing towards the very ideals that were spelled out upon the birth of this once glorious womb of individualistic freedom. Good ol’ freedom, American as apple pie and mashed potatoes, too bad a whole shit load of us forgot how to cook.
True freedom comes with the confidence of relying solely on yourself to decide what is in your best interest and what is not. This individualistic responsibility is one that is earned through trials met and won of your own momentum and is often loaded with booby traps set to make you wander into someone else’s area of interest. Altruism naturally follows happiness in one’s own mind.
It’s butt ass cold in Brooklyn and will be for some time. The streets are quiet again but that will all change soon. Soon, the delivery drivers will have loaded up their straight trucks to shuttle around the wares of the city. Vendors will take on the bustle of a morning where they will pour thousands of cups of coffee for people in a hurry to get to their places of work. Receptionists will take their bunker behind the front desks of the world and greet the new business of today.
And time… that ever flowing stream of human history will move with the speed of interaction, only bending for those who know the physics of their own existence.
She leaves the house after an urgent and drawn out embrace. I wonder how long this bit of comfort in my life will last? How long before my mind complicates this to the point of exhaustion on both of our ends?
A pattern emerges in life, one of structure and of the desire for the destruction of it. It is a cycle that regulates the majority of our tribulations with the questions of passion and life.
Progression is simply change aimed away from the misgivings of the past. To call them mistakes would be foolish. Our flaws are our starting points; the endings occur only when you dive into those oh so human fuck ups so far that perfection begins to reveal itself from their depths.
This pattern of emotion, intrigue, obsession and destruction has plagued me all of my life. I work tirelessly at building only to watch what I have built tumble continuously towards that broad and swollen ground, a feather bed of failure stuffed with iron and rock. I have felt this ground so often that I feel kin to the dirt that covers it, I now make it a point to run my fingers through the silt just to remember where I came from and where I must return.
Every word from this page on is a direct record of just one of those falls.