It occurred to me recently, in one of those sudden, sobering facepalm moments, that here I have this blog all dedicated to writing and everything, and yet almost twenty posts and three months in, I have yet to revisit the book I mentioned in my opening post. In other words, my own book. In other words, I'm a bit of an idiot.
The thing is, it's actually hard for me to talk about my book. As I mentioned back then, I am currently working on its sequel, but the entire decade-long episode surrounds a kernel of such genuine pain that I rarely express or even visit it. In fact, you can see it in my face in the embedded photo (wow, where does the time go?). The sequel itself is not going particularly well, either, for slightly different reasons. In fact, personal and darkly precious as they are—black pearls formed around gritty irritants—a part of me will be very relieved to get these two books behind me, so I can concentrate on lighter fare... such as disturbing, transgressive and/or graphic horror fiction. Yeah, I know, that sounds like a joke, but it's actually not.
I don't mean those books are bad. Not at all. I think Dissolute Kinship is a very decent short book, in fact, and I have every reason to believe its follow-up will be equally good, albeit a tad less redemptive. It's just that I've lived them now and they feel a little like millstones... like the haunted past... and I now want to escape some of the darkness and breathe a little.
So let me try to explain why I was in the predicament in the first place. I once worked with damaged kids. When I say damaged, I suppose I mean "abused and neglected and marginalized youth", in the jargony parlance of our official mandate. These are inadequate and even glib terms when describing lives that have barely gotten off the ground, lives that have only just woken from the sleep that comes before life and have already found themselves blighted by some of the worst afflictions of the human condition: addiction, poverty, cruelty, sexual predation, the vast indifference of the wider world.
My job on the streets was to be available to the kids who haunted the arcades and alleyways in case they needed and (more crucially) asked for services, and to advocate relentlessly for them once they did. I've never felt such a weighty responsibility. We would wrestle with the "system" (loosely, the government agencies centred around social services, education, law enforcement, etc.) and sometimes provide the voice for an individual child that pain or anger had silenced, however temporarily.
The youth on the street knew we were there, knew what we offered, and by no means did all of them access our services. But they knew. Which was sometimes enough. We were safe adults, usually predictable in our movements (deliberately so) and they knew where to find us. Even if it was to hit us up for a couple quarters to play Mortal Kombat.
Over time, we became street fixtures ourselves, and this is where trouble can start.
Okay, this is getting too long for a single blog post, so I'm going to split it into two parts.
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