Last night, I sat up with Rosa. She wasn't feeling well. She had spent the day doing laundry and the mundane little things it takes to keep a house running. "What did you do today?" she asked me after I had listened to her talk awhile. "I hung out with the gang all day. I was lonely," I replied.
"You are so unlike them," Rosa told me. "You are kind, smart, so together."
"I teeter on the edge, though," I told her. "I teeter on the edge of not having it together. It is kind of like being a teenager and hanging out with the bad crowd. It feels dangerous and fun -- exciting."
"I know," Rosa said. "It feels comfortable to me as well. I am used to hanging out with people like that after my homeless days."
"You know what I like most about hanging out with the gang?" I replied.
"They accept me for who I am. They don't put on airs or try to make you something you are not. I grew up with my parents doing that - they and their friends -- always putting on airs. I can be the most desperate drunk and good for nothing and Big S, George, Ferret, and the gang would like me as a best friend. I can be myself, warts and all."
"Self esteem," Rosa then said bluntly. "You don't have any self esteem -- no self worth."
Rosa's biting words hurt, but she was right. I hang out with the gang because they are the only one who will accept me. I don't have any other friends and I get lonely. My social anxieties will not allow me to associate with the crowd my father hangs out with -- nor would I want them as friends.
"I struggle with self esteem as well," Rosa told me as she backpedaled and worried she had hurt my feelings. "I think of my past and it really brings me down. I was a prostitute and a crackhead -- not things to be proud of. It haunts me."
"Me and you are just so sensitive," I said, wrapping her in my arms as we sat on my couch. "So terribly sensitive and I would have never thought you would be that way. I always thought of you as being so tough and steely."
"It's a curse and I think that is what makes us want to use and for you to drink."
"True," I said as we both grew quiet just sitting there holding each other.
"At least I have you," I thought quietly.
I realized I have spent most of my life alone. All through childhood and adulthood, I wandered aimlessly without a friend or friends. It took me becoming homeless to finally find some friends. I had hit rock bottom and had nowhere to go but up. My friends -- the gang -- maybe misfits, but they are my friends. I don't have to be alone any longer. I only have one life to live and I want it filled with interesting and vibrant people full of life. Not the milquetoast circle of friends that hover around my father because of his money and social standing. Those people are not really friends in the truest sense of the word and would disappear if my father became penniless and destitute. George would give me ten bucks and buy me a beer if I fell on hard times. I call that a friend.