I met Caleb earlier in the week, a young homeless kid living on the streets for three years. He was addicted to "synthetic marijuana", and refused to stay in the shelters. We became friends, I found him a possible job and he showed me how he saw the streets.
"Have you seen that girl who was supposed to meet me here," said Leah. "You mean the young girl in her pajamas? Yea she was just here, crying." Leah starts pacing, searching to see if the girl is around, but she is gone. "Shit I really wanted to help her, look, make sure you tell her to find me across the street if you see her again, you know that spot over by the subway entrance, I'm gonna be right there. I'll stay til nine o'clock, I'm willing to risk losing my spot (at the shelter), so make sure you tell her to come see me." She never shows up.
"Damn you girls are high as a kite," Caleb exclaims, as the two trans bounce past him. They laugh. I pitch in, "you girls are FABULOUS, strike a pose." They both twirl around, hair flying, back to back.
I notice his earrings first, they dangle and dance in the nightlight as he carries his bag to collect bottles. I can't resist, "Can I take your picture," I ask. "Sure, let me show you how its done," he says, adjusting his jacket and hat, then leaning in and crossing his hands.
Oh My God these heels are killing me.
"Damn girls, why you wearing those high heels, the guys don't care." "I'm not doing it for the guys," she responds. "I'm doing it for my man." I burst out laughing as they wobble down the street, each holding onto the other, trying not to fall as they gingerly take one step at a time. The other girl stops, leans against the scaffolding and asks me, "Hey you know if there's a dollar store around here." "Why," I roar, "cause you wanna get some shoes." "Yea," she bemoans. Hilarity ensues.
I sit down with Caleb, avoiding the piss in the man hole cover. Some People look at us oddly, but most just walk on by, never looking down . He keeps on commenting. This woman, lost in her own gaze, just stands silent for a minute. Unnoticed by her, I crane my neck and frame the shot.
The light changes, and the crowd moves across the street. Up steps this little girl from the curb, then she just stops in the middle of the crowd and starts crying. Caleb looks over and shouts, "hey Dad pick her up, pick her up, she's tired." The parents look down, wait a bit, then take her hands and pull her along. Caleb is not pleased, he knows what it is like to be tired on the streets.
"My mom used to wear high boots like that, I think of her every time I see them," I say. "Look at those legs," he whistles. "Yea," I pause for a moment, "hey you got a girlfriend?" "Nah." "No? How long you been single?" "Since I got here," he responds. "Three years? No way, three years," I reply in disbelief. "You mean you haven't had sex for three years, that's crazy." "Nah, I just chill. I make love to my weed."
"What the fuck, watch out, I almost saw you get hit", Caleb shouts as the girls jump back from oncoming traffic. One falls falls down, while the other watches laughing uncontrollably, and then she rocks back up to join her gal pal as they race across the street.
I take it as my cue to leave, telling Caleb I will catch up with him tomorrow, but he doesn't reappear for the rest of my stay. Who knows maybe he followed up on my lead to get that job a few blocks away with the guy who runs the bike delivery service, or maybe he just is chilling.