A Tale of Homeless Co-dependence, Dolphins, and Freedom.
~by Jason Curtis
You know it’s hard getting to that happily ever after if you weren’t that happy to begin with. I was about 19 when we met, living in a van behind my friend’s house. They were in a band called “Fuct.” (My sentiments, exactly).
I’d left home at 15, working in bars before I was old enough to drink in them. I’d seen my share of poverty, violence and ignorance. I had been running since I left home. And by 19, tired and at wit’s end, I came to rest and meditate next to my first teacher…a street prophet and Vietnam vet. I took LSD and witnessed my internal dialogue…stop.
Sitting there was my escape from a life where the odds seemed stacked against me. After a year and a half of sitting alone, I began asking the universe for a girlfriend and when she strolled across the field I said, “oh, no… not her.”
This skinny stripper wasn’t quite what I had in mind. We had known each other enough to say hello to. Her boyfriend had been in a band. He was killed by a drunk driver while on tour in Florida.
So here we go.
We get an apartment downtown. In what we called the anti-neighborhood because after 7 pm the homeless had to be in the shelter. But it had a great view of the city.
One night she calls me from the club a few blocks away, she’s headed home. Moments pass and she doesn’t show, my instincts tell me to find her. I jump on my bike and it takes me right to her. She’s stopped with a cop car blocking her in. I read the scene immediately and roll up between them. My first clue is he doesn’t have his lights flashing… I asked her “what’s up?”
She says “he wants me to get in his car.” I knew right then he’d have to kill me to harm her. Looking at him for the first time, I tell her to go home. In his eyes I know he knows his darkness is exposed. Without a word he pulls away.
Living on the streets you learn things they don’t teach you in school. Like what it feels like to put your life on the line. And what can happen to strippers on their way home. I had shown up in a way that had surprised me. I had taken risks before, but now, with her, the stakes seemed so much higher.
I decided we needed to move. She decided that standing up to that cop was proof of my love, and cemented my new role as rescuer. We set out exploring our options, looking for a new life out West.
She finds a school in Boulder, and I work hard building houses. We live in the shadow of Naropa, putting my theories to practice to live up to some unspoken promise. The years go by, and it seems like we’re the lucky ones.
By the time I was turning 30 we had planned our first vacation…Maui. A lifelong goal.
… and there we were floating, surrounded by dozens of spinner dolphins on a beautiful clear day. One of the dolphins blows her a bubble kiss. Something she had wished for. I was thinking…”this is as good as it gets.”
And this is when I decided to leave her. Somehow, the debt felt paid. We had learned how to survive—and now the gravity of this escape was all that held us together. That she knew me when I had long hair and lived in a van, and I knew her when she rocked the club and brought in a thousand a night.
Six months after I leave, she calls and thanks me for being strong enough to make the hard choices. Now she was showing up in a way that surprised me.
I felt so much relief, after so many accusations. In my own way I was still protecting her, protecting us. It had been 10 years since that night with the cop. When the stakes were so high we couldn’t see them. Now we were grown-ups, afraid of being alone for the first time. We had been trapped by the very roles that once kept us alive.
The Warrior and the Princess. Floating there, learning to let go and swim with the dolphins.
This was our happily ever after.
hot on elephant
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