When you’re living on the street, you get up when the sun rises. It sucks, but you have no choice in the matter. You’re not sleeping in when this goddamn ball of nuclear fusion is burning through your eyes into your fucking brain and the whole world seems to be waking up. Trust me, the world makes a lot of noise when it wakes up.
I’d been sleeping in a field and staggered up, not quite knowing what to do. I was hungry and lucky if I had a couple of bucks – but it was so early nothing was even open yet. There was a gas station nearby, so I headed there for a coffee. At least I had a pack of cigarettes – the breakfast of champions. If you’re a smoker, you know the first cigarette of the day is really special – maybe your best smoke of the day. Well, one of them anyway. So off I go.
One of the things I remember about living on the street was this sense that there was an unlimited amount of time – almost too much time, really. You didn’t know how to fill up your day. And all of this time seemed to be spent on the most basic shit: where your next meal was coming from, trying to stay unobtrusive so the cops wouldn’t bother you, somehow getting some money to eat and get high, and the eternal question of where you were going to sleep that night.
If you’re a young man, you can imagine the potential for trouble. In fact, there would seem to be no way that this was going to turn out well at all. And yet somehow I managed to come out of this disaster in one piece. Why? I’m not sure I can fully answer that. I’d like to say it was because other people reached out and helped me, but that’s not entirely true. I had an almost feral mistrust of others that prevented anyone from getting too close.
It was really music that did it – playing in bands gave me a sense of community and belonging, and immersing myself in the subculture of music helped anchor my identity.
It provided my first hint that I could rise out of what seemed like a hopelessly epic clusterfuck of a childhood and be somebody. It was all I needed to get started…