An experiment in brief homelessness. Hey, Kerouac did it, right?
Nobody ever says, I want to be a starving artist when I grow up. In the public
school system, future doctors, lawyers and other servants of the corporate class receive
their education. Social education, the rules for how to properly walk in order to escape
abuse from your peers comes from television.
But what happens when you're more interested in learning than in education?
What happens when you're too friendly to learn the poses that allow you to be social?
You become a nobody. That's what happened to us. Being a nobody isn't that bad
though. It's the only way we're allowed to be starving artists.
We were the ones persecuted in school. We were the ones who questioned the
doctrines in school. We were the ones who ruined the movie because it was obvious how
it was going to end.
I read comic books idolizing Peter Parker, the nerd; bullied and isolated. I was
home-schooled until fifth grade. I was an outcast, understanding abstract concepts but
finding simple social situations baffling.
Sarah is a combination of genetics and environment. But how can you answer that
question, she puffs. Who she is can not be summarized in a few words or volumes. As we
swerve past cars testing reality, we speculate on whether everyone is an undercover agent
and what is really going on.
We both came from respectable, middle class families. Her mother was a former
NSA agent and employee-slave of the United States military. Her father was abusive, an
alcoholic. She was raised in the public school system, but like me just couldn't seem to
blind herself to the obvious in the way most adults did and the other children were being
My mother was the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. My step-father, who
grew up in rural McMinnville in the 1950's, raised me. When I finally made it to school,
I was amazed at how simple it was. In Dibrell, the community on the outskirts of the
county I lived in, there aren't enough people to get cable in your home. I was raised on
PBS and when I got bored I simply read, often from the big leather World Book
We were too smart for our own good, and many adults don't like being reminded
of what they lost when they grew up. We were a threat to some teachers, a delight to
others. Some teachers seemed to reach out a protective arm, while some seemed intent on
destroying us. These were all childish illusions, however, teachers are hand-picked in
order to properly educate the youth of America in order for them to become beneficial
members of society. They were just doing their jobs. Sarah and I seemed to be clearly
headed away from being utilitarian gears in the clockwork of society. The teachers meant
no harm, but were merely trying to warn us. We didn't heed their warning.
We were stuck like Sartre, in a world we did not create or ask to be a part of. Despite intense programming efforts on the part of not only the school system and television, but also on our parents, all the other "wise adults" and any other authority figure, we struck out on our own and decided to do that which was not explicitly illegal, but broke every unwritten rule of society.
Smart, middle-class kids don't drop out of society and become homeless. That's what was drummed into our brain for so long we almost believed it. We were raised not to believe in propaganda, that's what the nazis used. At least that's what our history books told us. They also told us the Civil War was about freedom and slavery and America was the champion of justice and had only committed minor wrongs (like for instance the holocaust of the Native Americans, more of which were killed by Americans and American policies than Jews were killed in the extermination chambers).
We had some clue that the world we lived in was a sham, but were still afraid of the plastic and glass warnings everywhere that urged us not to look too deeply, but to simply follow along with everyone else. We had both planned leaving since we were children and when we met in high school, the urges grew. Escape. Exodus. Something exciting was around the corner, or maybe we just wanted it to be.
We didn't find out how false the "real world" was until we got out of society. Homelessness is supposedly the result of increasing social marginalization due to economic factors. In our case, however it was due to psychic, spiritual and political matters. We began to discover that when you fit the ideas of the "lone nuts" together, their stories make a lot more sense than the ever-changing magic bullet theories.
Now that we've broken free of the social matrix (referring to the philosophical idea, not the red-herring film), we are free to move as we wish and are not even as persecuted by the enforcers of corporate authority. We operate our green 1968 Chrysler Newport by sheer will. We have found that we already had all the skills we were convinced did not exist or couldn't be understood.
So is it a true story? Can this be true . Of course it's a true story, but only as true as anything else which depends on how much you believe in it. Regardless of whether or not our story is true , we still navigate through this vivid dream, trying to learn more about our place and our job. We were put here for a reason and despite the resistance of all the forces of the material world, we are trying to find that reason.
So now here we are, two young homeless people. Trying to live a life like Woody Guthrie, or Bob Dylan, or Jack Kerouac or all those other "legends." Legends never die, though, so now we continue the story of those who came before us by sharing with all of you, dear readers, that which is true in our minds (even if in no one else's).
If you listen closely perhaps you'll solve the riddle which is much more simple than you could possibly imagine. Or you can just close your third eye and follow along the maze of ink and paper trying to understand what we are trying to say. Well, if you don't know, we can't tell you. But if you think you have an idea, read on.
*To be Continued
© Philip Fairbanks March 2003