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  • It was my third day of traveling. Standing at a truck stop in the early morning, I called Jodie and told her I was in Kansas City. She was just about to walk out the door, and told me to come to the day care in Overland Park where she worked, and gave me directions. I had never been to Kansas City and never heard of Overland Park, but I started walking. I walked for hours through one suburb and the next, getting lost multiple times along the way, until I reached my destination. She put me in a classroom that wasn’t being used, and I passed out.

    When she got off work, she told me that the reason I came to Kansas City, to drive back to California in a van with her, had fallen through. There was no van, she hadn’t bought it. She also was living with an aunt, and I couldn’t stay with her. However, she had called around and found a place for me to stay at a YMCA in the city. She drove me there and checked me in to a homeless shelter.

    They gave me a bed in a dorm with many other homeless denizens of Kansas City, and told me in the morning I had to me with a social worker and do the paperwork. This dumb 18 year-old suburban kid crawled into bed with his clothes on and lay awake with his eyes closed, listening to the odd and crazy sounds coming from the beds around him, until finally going to sleep once the noise stopped. I woke up early, before anyone else, and left.

    I got hold of Jodie and told her I could never stay there again. It was a Friday, and she said she would grab a tent and some sleeping bags and come get me, and we would camp at Smithville Lake for the weekend, and then see what we could do on Monday. She had also put the word out to friends and family that I needed a place to stay.

    We went to the county park and camped at the lake over a beautiful summer weekend with barely enough money to feed ourselves. One afternoon, lying in the tent next to each other, our feet started to touch, and then rub up against each other. At one point she stopped, and I said “My feet are lonely.” I then lost my virginity.

    .............................................

    Photo of a mural in Kansas City, 1998.
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