Thursday, October 24, 2013

Anatomy of Leaving. Chapter 1: A Night in Phils

It starts with a night out in Phils. I don’t mean Philippines, I mean Philadelphia.

I was in Frankford terminal at 4AM. Amidst drunkards and drug addicts tweaking, there I was. Gotham city in real life. I just got to the bus station from a night of Salsa. My last ever Salsa night in the USA. It was disgusting to see the girls and the desperate men who had to learn the craft to sleep with them. There was a time I enjoyed the scene and had good many females, but that was a different time, a different place, and a different me.

Nevertheless, I was there, in one of the highest crime areas in the whole of USA. The reason I was staying there was because I had no place to live. I had moved out of my tiny Boston apartment and had sold every last possession that I had. Everything that I owned would need to fit in my luggage for my one way ticket to Manila. Everything was gone and I was just a ghost in a city of ghouls.

I was always the guy everyone felt safe to talk to. I also prided myself of navigating the world of streets, as I had been in an ethnic enclave in California. But at 4am in Philadelphia this would test my limit. I knew I was target and any sign of weakness would be quickly exploited. This is the way of the declining west.

A young black man sat beside me as I had the taken the best position in the area to survey my surroundings. Instinctively I knew he was an ally and I knew he knew we were on the same spectrum.

“got a light?”

I asked him. This had always been a tactic of me to keep a spare cigarette in my bag as to be used when the situation warrants.

“sure” here it is.

As if on cue, a white guy with tatooes all over his eyes with a baseball cap came up to us.

“got a cigarette?”

A fckin beggar. In the land of the plenty here this guy was asking a young black man for a cigarette.

“it’s a dollar a piece” the young black man said.

“naaaaah……. I’m cool”

“fucking crackhead got money for crack and aint go no money for my cigs” my cigarette vending
hustler friend whispered to me.

While watching each other’s back, we talked about his business, and I told about some of mine (I sold electronics on ebay when I was teen). We were both children of struggle this boy and I. Maybe his life is somewhat harder than mine because of his environment but I could tell he was nice inside

just a soldier lost in the struggle.

The bus arrived and we boarded. I could tell he was interested in what I have to say so he sat beside me.  A young white girl sat in front of us and started talking to us. She too, was a survivor. She sat beside us to get some protection. I smiled my non-threatening Asian smile. We were now a wolf-pack.

The black guy told me about his life. I already know the story. Young black man, very little opportunities, bad parenting, in a city of crime, got a girl knocked up, had to pay child support, and now slanging cigarettes in the bus station to make do while waiting for his army enlistment form.

“why don’t you leave the USA?” I said non-threateningly.

Suddenly his face lit up. He has not considered this before. He became full of hope of knowing another life lay wait for him in the corner.

“yeah” I told him, “my friend moved to Brazil”

The idea of him leaving the USA to a foreign land to meet foreign girls entered his cranium. It was an idea so simple but in effect so powerful.

“listen,” I started to tell him “others have done this from the same situations – why do you put up with this? “

I didn’t have the heart to tell him his statistics. I knew he faced a hard road in front of him. He is also indoctrinated by the mainstream, just like a long-term prisoner is afraid to enter the light of the world as a free man.

“but how will I make money?” he asked.

“well.. you can teach English for starters”

“well I don’t have money to pay for ticket”

“well.. then you can save up”

He ponders it. I continued,

“ionno.. hustler.. maybe you can even open a credit line, buy the electronics I was telling you about, then dump it in the ground once you’re there.. it’s called an arbitrage.. just like selling cigarettes”

His stop was coming up.

I continued, “ok so maybe think about it – I leave in approximately one week to do the exact thing I was telling you about. I’m done with this country. I aint taking this shit. I’m moving out”

He seemed deep in thought, as if he were actually considering it. He was an intelligent mind!

“then check this site and see for yourself. Give me your phone and I’ll write the URL”

I gave him the address.

He got down. Shortly, I also got down at my stop. Amidst Mcdonalds and Burger Kings with the cool summer air of the east-coast I started walking. This was the last time I passed here. Last time I got out and enjoyed the night life. That guy was my last American friend.

In a week’s time I would have left. I would have said good bye to the system and institutions that marked my life. It was like I was leaving plato’s cave. I’ve read all about overseas and exploits and a better life. It was a developed idea in my cranium and it had manifested. I was happy to have at least shared it.

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