the Place in Between
In every city of any size, there is a place where like-minded people meet to get their freak on. You can look directly at it and not see it unless you know what’s going on. You can get anything you want there, but it will cost you. That’s the nature of things.
It is never a destination. It’s a place in between tedium and suburbia. It’s an impulse turn from the daily routine; a guilty pleasure that you can feel guilty about after you feel the rush of the forbidden. It’s a strange kind of feral neutral zone where people that would never notice each other in the real world meet, greet and fuck in 30 seconds.
In some places, it is a neighborhood. In others, it is a stretch of road or a few dilapidated bars. In my old town, it was a park.
The park was built in the 1930s- a time when we built things instead of just consuming them. It was a whole lot of poor people doing a government ‘make-work’ job creating something where there was nothing. It was built on twenty-five forested acres of ancient oaks and pines. There were two parts divided by a lake at its center and two circular drives in the front and back. There were playgrounds, basketball courts, picnic tables, a baseball field, and even a pavilion for events.
For many years, the park was the center of a booming community. Kids played there. People took their families there on Sunday afternoons. Couples proposed there. Kids played hooky from school and fished in the lake. There were Fourth of July fireworks and Labor Day barbecues. Car shows and concerts and flea markets.
Then the rust set in, and the neighborhood began to die. It was slow at first and gained momentum over the decades. The families moved to the suburbs. The houses were rented. As the decades passed, the houses were neglected and eventually sat empty. The once thriving businesses were replaced by dusty warehouses and empty store-fronts. The low-life’s moved in: biker bars and tattoo parlors; sex arcades and no-tell motels. It became a desperate and dangerous place.
The park’s fate was inextricably linked to the neighborhood. As the neighborhood declined, so did the park. It began with neglect of the ball fields. Then the grass wasn’t cut. Damage by vandals wasn’t fixed. The picnic tables became piles of concrete rubble with obscene graffiti. Every few years the councilmen for the district brow beat the city council into cleaning up the park. Without consistent maintenance, it was a losing battle. The rust won out in the long run.
I was 16 when I first laid eyes on the park. It was a hot, sultry August day in the late seventies. I was with my friends Joey, Michael and his older brother Steven. We bought an ounce of weed from a biker behind one of the tattoo parlors on the old highway. We needed a place where we could park, split the bag, and smoke a joint in peace.
Steven drove his old Impala down the Frontage road and turned off onto a road that I’d never seen on before. At first there were old abandoned businesses on both sides of the road. After a short drive, the old buildings gave way to dense forest. Steven slowed and turned off on a road with an ivy covered concrete sign that read Lake Shore Park. Several of the metal letters were missing but rust stained the sign in their place. Ancient, faded graffiti covered the concrete.
Michael asked, “What is this place?”
Steven’s one word answer was, “Decay.”
As we drove through the old park, I was struck by the desolation of the place. Weeds covered a playground; undergrowth choked the trees; grotesquely obscene graffiti covered everything. A stop sign read: STOP with small black letters spelling out fucking your sister. The wreckage of an old building had a bright red and white bastardization of the Coca-Cola logo that read Cock: it’s the real thing.
We drove along the circular drive and saw that there were gravel parking places scattered here and there; usually near the ruins of a shattered concrete picnic table. There were a few cars and people: a business man eating his lunch. A pair of black guys smoking a joint waved. A few people alone in cars stared at us as we drove by.
Steven drove until he came to a lake and parked in one of the parking places. He took the bag out and began splitting it four ways. A light blue Gremlin drove by very slowly. The driver was a thirtyish man with a mustache wearing mirrored sunglasses. He took a long, hard look at us and drove on by.
Steven had finished splitting the bag. He said, “I don’t know about rolling one and smoking it here guys. This place gives me the creeps.”
His brother Michael asked, “Isn’t this a fag park?”
“I’ve heard that”, said Steven. “I’ve heard a lot of stuff about this place. Some people say that you can smoke weed out here and not have to worry about the cops. It just gives me bad vibes.”
Michael said, “We might as well. It’s a long way to drive out to the country.”
Steven shrugged. He lit a hastily rolled joint and we passed it around. The same creep in the Gremlin drove by three times before we finished the joint and drove off.
Leaving the park, we saw the Gremlin parked by the road. The mustached guy in shades was standing beside it waving his large, semi-erect cock at us.
I was curious but extremely wary about the park. It wasn’t long before my curiosity got the better of me. On a Saturday afternoon in September I was in the general area and decided to drop in to have a look.
The park looked the same as my first visit but there weren’t as many cars. I wanted to explore the park more closely so I drove on the road across the levee that bounded the lake and went further back into the park.
The back side of the park was similar to the front: all oak and pine forest with a lot of undergrowth. There wasn’t quite as much litter and vandalism. The same gravel parking places were set along the road at even intervals. The circular drive went around and climbed the hill that stood over the lake. I pulled into a parking place at the crest of the hill where I could see anyone coming from a great distance. I turned on the radio, fired up a joint and sat back to watch the freak show.
From the top of the hill I could see at least half of the circular drive in front of the park. A few minutes of sitting on the hill, a car drove up to one of the parking places around the lake. It was a long way off. I couldn’t see details, but it looked like a lone driver.
A few minutes later a truck appeared and drove toward the lake. It slowed when it passed the parked car. The car’s brake lights came on as the truck drove by. The truck, apparently interested, passed the car and parked a short distance away. The guy got out of the truck and walked back to the car. There was a short conversation and the man got in the passenger door.
It was much too far away to see exactly what was going on, but I had a pretty good idea.
Two kids on bikes appeared on the road with their shirts off and draped over their shoulders. They road up to the lake, saw the two parked vehicles, and then crossed over the levee. Once they were across the levee, the two started riding up the hill toward me.
My joint was about done so I flicked the roach out the window and watched as the two teenagers climbed the hill on their bikes. The boys were tall, lean and muscular wearing nothing but gym shorts and sneakers. As they got closer, I could tell that they were younger than me and recognized that their shorts were the red and gray of a local middle school.
They rolled up and the shorter of the two boys said, “Hey man, how’s it going?”
I said, “I’m just sitting back watching the freak show.”
The taller of the two sniffed the air and said, “I sure like what you’ve been cooking. I’ll match you if you want to roll a joint.”
I smiled and said, “You’re on.”
He started digging a bag out of his shoe and I said, “It’s cool. I’ve already got a couple rolled. It’s not too smart to ride around with too much on you.”
I fired up the joint and handed it to the nearest boy. After I blew out my hit I asked, “do you guys go to Johnson?’.
Shorty made a jacking gesture with his hand and said, “Last year. We go to Richards now.”
I said, “My name is Jimmy.”
The tall kid said, “Out here you don’t want to use your real name. Just call me Rocky, and this is Bullwinkle.”
Shorty shot him the bird and handed him the joint. We smoked it and shot the shit for a while. Rocky and Bullwinkle were pretty cool. Cool enough to tell me that Rocky was really Clay and Bullwinkle was Alex.
I asked them what they were doing and they gave each other a look. Clay nodded and Alex said, “We’re out here to make a little cash.”
A car crossed the levee and started toward the back side circle. I think the confused look on my face gave me away. Alex grabbed his crotch and said, “You know, with this.”
All I could think of to say was, “Oh.”
Clay said, “These old guys like to suck dick and they’ll pay you good for it.”
Alex said, “To tell you the truth; for a minute there we thought you were the competition.”
I must have blushed twelve shades of red because Alex and Clay got a good laugh out of my reaction.
Recovering from my surprise I asked, “Isn’t it dangerous?”
Clay said, “We look out for each other.”
“How did you… figure it out?”
Alex said, “I was riding my bike here a couple of summers ago. An old guy in a Cadillac offered me a twenty if I would let him suck my dick. I got scared at first and then he offered me another twenty. It was weird at first, but nothing beats a blow job and some of these guys are really good at it. Getting paid for it is like… Christmas.”
“How did the two of you team up?”
Clay said, “We knew each other from the trailer park. We saw each other out here and figured out that we were both doing the same thing. Now we go together to watch each other’s backs.”
The car that we had seen cross the levee pulled up into the parking places behind me. I got a little nervous but Clay walked over to the car and started talking to the middle aged driver.
Alex said, “That’s one of our regulars. He’s sorta homely but he always pays and there’s never any bullshit.”
The driver opened his door. It shielded us from seeing everything that was going on. Clay stood behind the door and dropped his shorts to his ankles. I could see the man’s head bobbing up and down and it started giving me a boner. I noticed that it had the same effect on Alex. We stood there transfixed as Clay got into it. He arched his back and started thrusting with his hips as he had the man’s head in his hands fucking his face.
I felt that I was intruding, looked away and said, “Damn.”
Alex smiled and rubbed my crotch. “It gets to you don’t it?”
I let him rub my crotch and saw that his boner was throbbing in those shorts. I touched it and actually felt his pulse in it.
Alex said, “Yes it is.”
“So, um… how much can you make out here?”
He said, “A hundred bucks if you go all out. I usually make sixty or eighty. Sometimes you meet somebody who wants you to do stuff. That costs them extra.”
I asked, “What do they want?”
Alex sighed and said, “Some of them want you to fuck them in the ass. That can be pretty cool if they are young. Others want you to blow them. Some of them want to fuck you but I don’t go for that.”
We heard the car door close. Clay walked up to us and said, “Henry asked if one or both of you want to get blown.”
Alex looked at me and said, “So what do you say stud? There’s always room in your wallet for another few bills.”
I said, “Why not. It would be a shame to waste a perfectly good boner.” Alex looked pleased and we walked to the stranger's car.
The man was probably in his mid-thirties with a receding hair line. He said, “How’s it going Alex. Who is your friend?”
Alex said, “This is Jim. He wants the same deal I get. Cool?”
The man said, “Done.”
We got behind the door of the car. Alex dropped his shorts to his ankles. He was naked for all practical purposes. He was hung pretty well for a sophomore. He had a little over six inches, not much hair and it was hard as a rock. The man took him all down and licked his balls.
Alex said, “Oh shit Henry. I love it when you do that.”
I fumbled with my belt and the buttons on my 501 jeans. My cock popped out and the man reached over and gently stroked it as he deep throated Alex. I stood right beside Alex, and he put his arm around my shoulder for balance.
After working on Alex for a few minutes, the man switched to me. I was a little bigger and thicker than Alex but Henry was an expert. He swallowed my cock and I gurgled with pleasure as he took my whole cock down and swirled his tongue around my balls. As all of his attention was on me, I reached over and jacked Alex.
I would have rather it had just been me and Alex; it was Alex that was making me so hot. The guy sucking my cock was an afterthought. I think the feeling was mutual because Alex lolled his head over on my shoulder.
The man switched up between us a couple of times. After a few minutes of giving Alex a power blow job, he climaxed. Henry turned his attention to me and got the same results.
He handed us both thirty bucks in tens, closed the door and drove off.
Alex looked at me and said, “Easiest money you ever made.”
We walked back to my car and sat around for a while.
I think that I got quiet because Clay said, “That was your first time wasn’t it.”
I shook my head and said, “No. I’ve done it with guys before.”
Alex said, “He means for money.”
Clay said, “Don’t let it get in your head. It’ll fuck with you if you do.”
Alex said, “Think of it this way: you are a guy and I’m guessing that at some point today you were going to jerk off.”
I grinned and nodded.
Clay said, “Well that was way better than jerking off and you got paid for it too.”
Alex and Clay stayed in the park after I left. They lived in a dive of a trailer park not far away. I gave Alex my number. I didn’t really expect to hear from him but he called me Thursday night. We agreed to meet back in the park Saturday afternoon.
I liked the pair, but I felt terrible for them. The trailer park that they lived in was a dump. It was the last refuge of poor white trash in the city. I had known another kid who lived there, and the poverty was incredible. They weren’t hanging out at the park for fun. They were probably there for survival. I could choose to stay away, but they were stuck there.
When Saturday rolled around, I decided that I would make sure that they at least had an enjoyable day. Instead of my car, I got my Dad’s old truck that we used for fishing. I put some folding chairs in the back, a little grill, some charcoal and an ice chest. On the way to the park, I stopped at the grocery store and got some hot dogs, all the fixings, a 12 pack of canned cokes and some ice. I finished it all off by getting some crickets for bait. After I packed the cooler, I went to the park.
Alex and Clay weren’t there when I arrived. I picked a parking spot on the back side of the lake and set up camp. I started the charcoal on the grill and sat back in one of the folding chairs while I waited for them to arrive.
It took a while for them to show up; long enough for me to tell a couple of creepy looking old men driving by that I wasn’t interested. I got a fishing pole, baited the hook and sat by the lake. I smoked one of the joints that I had stashed away and watched the freak parade.
The weird guy in the Gremlin was there. He stopped up the hill from me and stood there jacking off for a while. I didn’t pay any attention to him so he finally drove away.
After waiting a half hour or so, I finally saw Alex and Clay headed my way on their bikes. I noticed that there was another kid with them. They were dressed a lot like they were the Saturday before; all three were shirtless but Alex was wearing blue jean shorts.
Alex skidded his bike to a stop and parked it by the truck. I motioned for him to take a seat. He looked around and said, “Hey Dude. We weren’t sure that was you until we got real close.”
“I thought that if we looked like we were fishing, nobody would mess with us.”
Clay and the new kid rolled up. He looked around the make-shift fishing camp and smiled. “What’s on the grill?”
“Hot dogs. Is anybody hungry?”
The new kid said, “Always.”
Alex said, “Jim, meet Travis. Travis, this is Jim.”
Travis was a younger kid. I guessed that he was probably 14. He was a head shorter than Alex. He was extremely cute with long curly jet-black hair and pale skin.
I said, “Nice to meet you Travis. I’ll throw in some hot dogs and then we can hang out.”
We did. The boys ate as if they were starved. After we finished eating, we passed around a joint and sat talking for a while. I learned a lot about them listening to them talk. All three lived with their single moms at the trailer park. Alex’s mom stayed drunk most of the time. Clay and Travis’s mothers worked so much they were almost never around. All three of the boys came to the park to make money. Travis was apparently new at it.
As we sat by the lake, cars and trucks kept driving by eyeing us. Some of the drivers looked frightening to me. Once the boys were fed, they weren’t nearly as interested in tricking. We decided to move to a secluded parking space in the back of the park where we could hang out without old men breathing down our necks. We threw things in the back of the truck. When we didn’t see any of the lecherous old coots nearby, we drove around to the back of the park, off the road and behind the shelter of a copse of trees and undergrowth.
What a difference a short distance can make! We were parked under a grove of ancient oaks. Undergrowth sheltered us from the road. There was no litter in sight, and a cool breeze brought the sweet smell of honeysuckle into the grove.
We set the chairs back up around the back of the truck but was one folding chair short. I hadn’t figured on having a fourth person show up. Travis parked himself on the tailgate of the truck.
It was easy to forget the ugliness that was just on the other side of the trees. We passed another joint around and enjoyed just hanging out. The boys seemed to enjoy talking about sports, comic books and cars instead of trying to figure out who would be a good "John" and not beat the crap out of them or worse.
Alex and Clay both had tons of stories about the guys in the park and gave many of them nicknames. They both knew the man in the Gremlin and called him “Joe Cool”. He always wore shades and waved his dick at people, but he never spoke. He wanted someone to suck his dick but was either too arrogant or too retarded to know how to ask nicely or to pay for it.
There were tons more; most of which I hadn’t seen. There was “Miss Piggy”: a fat, effeminate man who would snort like a pig while he sucked your dick. There was “the Preacher”: a defrocked Baptist minister whose former congregation took issue with his fondness for teen aged boys. Alex said he would try to save your soul and suck your cock all at the same time. The big hill in the back of the park was nicknamed Missionary hill in his honor. There was “the Radio guy”: an older man who read the news on local radio station. There was “the piss guy” that liked to jerk himself off while getting pissed on. There were men who would come dressed as women, but the boys all agreed that was just too weird.
There was also the competition, and you had to watch them as closely as the freaks. Clay said that there were older teens that would sometimes show up and either try to run them off or shake them down. There was a pair of uncommonly bad ones that would show up on week days.
Alex said that college-aged guys who would cruise on the weekends were the best. They weren’t gross like the old men and were mostly nice.
As we sat there, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by Travis. He was a sweet little kid: nice, polite and quiet. What was he doing here?
When there was a lull in the conversation, I asked, “Travis, how did you end up coming out here?”
He said, “I needed the money and after the stuff my mother’s old boyfriend made me do, it doesn’t freak me out.”
Shit. Never ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer.
I put my arm around him and gave him a little squeeze.
He looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said, “Do you want me? I owe you.”
Alex laughed and said, “I think he likes you. Besides, we all owe you.”
Clay said, “For lunch and the buzz.”
I protested, “I didn’t do it to make you owe me. I like all three of you. I did it because we’re friends.”
“It’s the rules man”, Clay said. “Look- you’ve been really cool to us but if you’re going to hang with us, you’ve got to know the rules. See the money first, never leave with a trick, never cruise alone, and always keep it even. The rules keep us safe, and keep us friends.”
Every now and then, between the flashes of normal, this place and the people in it reminded me of just how fucked up it all was.
I ended up having sex with all three of them that afternoon. It wasn’t the degrading trick-sex of the park. It was just four guys having fun. According to the rules, they owed me. To deny them would have been rude.
It took me a while to figure out the boy’s concept of debt. Talking with them, none of the boys identified themselves as gay despite having gay sex and enjoying it. According to Clay, because they didn’t actually do anything but get their dicks sucked for money, they weren’t really queer. To be in debt to me allowed them to have sex for fun and remain consistent.
We got into a pattern of meeting up in the park on Saturdays. After some trial and error, we figured out where the bluegill would bite in the lake. Most days the boys would take home a stringer full of fish.
If the guys needed money, they would trick. Alex could trick and shake it off anytime. Clay would get quiet and moody. I could see it bothered him sometimes. I didn’t trick very often and only when I was short of cash. Travis rarely tricked, and only if one of us was with him.
I started worrying about Clay. I could see it was getting on his nerves. After a session with a particularly gross trick, I heard him mumbling, “I need a vacation.”
Travis didn’t say much but when he did, he sounded like a little kid. When we would go off to be away from onlookers, he took to sitting in my lap. A few times he slipped up and called me daddy.
It didn’t take a PHD in psychology to tell that all three of the boys had “Daddy” issues big time. Alex was probably the worst. According to his stories, his Daddy was 10 feet tall, superman and won the Vietnam War all by himself. Clay never talked about his father and the way he acted, he didn’t want anybody to ask. Travis had never known a real father. Just a succession of guys that his mother was seeing: some decent, some not and at least one truly sick fuck.
When October rolled around, I harvested the weed that I was growing. I had started fifty plants indoors the previous January. In April, I transplanted the seedlings to a patch that I had prepared on some posted land. I read a book that told me exactly what to do and took scrupulous care of them. I cultivated and enriched the soil where the plants would grow with volcanic ash that I bought at a garden center. I didn’t visit them too often so that no one would find my patch. At harvest time, I took the forty-four plants that survived and took almost two hundred pounds of weed out of the woods. I hung it all out to cure and made a deal to sell most of it except for the stuff I wanted to keep for myself. By Halloween, it was ready and I took home thirty-five hundred dollars cash.
I immediately wanted to do something for the guys. The clothes they were wearing were too small or worn out and none of them had a decent coat. One by one I took them shopping and got them all three pairs of Levis, several shirts, underwear, socks, shoes and a jacket. They were astonished. I told them to be prepared to haul ass for the weekend come Friday. Maybe I couldn’t give Clay the vacation he wanted, but all of us would benefit from a weekend away.
Friday afternoon I picked up Alex, Clay and Travis and we set off on a short road trip to Vicksburg. The owner of the motel wasn’t thrilled that none of us were 18, but I had someone vouching for me. He got over it.
The hotel was quite rustic and had cabins that were spread out with views of the Mississippi River. They were far enough apart so that we had some privacy. Each cabin had a kitchen, refrigerator, stove and a fireplace. Outside the cabin was equipped with a grill and a picnic table. Once we were moved in we went to dinner at a good barbecue place I knew and went to see a movie.
We returned a little after eleven that night and the games began. We played a card game where the best hand got a bong hit and the losing hands took a shot of wine. It wasn’t long until we were all blitzed. We knew that we were all too messed up to go anywhere so we put some logs on the fireplace and lay around talking.
Clay, never one to be at a loss for candor, asked, “Jimmy, why did you do all of this?”
“Because we are more alike than you think. When I was 13, my scoutmaster threw me and several other boys out of scouts because we were fooling around. He didn’t just throw us out; he made a point to tell all of our parents.”
Alex muttered, “Holy shit.”
“Yeah. He threw a hand grenade into our lives and walked away. It caused an unholy shit-storm. One of the guys was sent away. His parents didn’t want him anymore. All of us went through pure hell at school. My parents kept me inside for a long time and then they sort of relaxed their grip. My Dad took a job for the government. He travels all the time and my Mom works with him. They stay gone pretty much all of the time. Instead of being their son, I’m their house sitter. ”
Clay said, “How does that make you like us?”
Once I started, the words started rolling out. I hadn’t had anyone to talk about it for years. “My parents- when I would get close to somebody, they would break it up. They would send me to a different school or collude with other parents to keep us apart. I think they got a guy I was close to arrested for drugs. Where I go to school, I don’t have any real friends. People treat me like shit. In a lot of ways, I’m just as alone as you are.”
Clay put his hand on my shoulder. He said, “I’m sorry. I-.”
I interrupted him and said, “That’s all right. I haven’t had anyone to talk to about this for a long time. As you can see, I’ve got problems of my own.”
Alex said, “No doubt. I couldn’t handle people thinking I was gay at school. It’s the only place where I’m not neck deep in shit.”
“The answer to Clay’s original question is I try to take care of you guys because I like you. You are all three good guys. I… wish we were brothers.” When I said that, I got choked up.
Clay looked astonished. He could see there was real emotion there and not just bullshit. His mouth hung open. His emotions caught up with him. “Why would anyone care about us? My old man is in prison, we’re all just trailer trash.”
I said, “No. You are not. Where you are, your circumstances, they don’t define you. It is what you are inside you that matters. You’re a good guy. You are loyal to your friends. We trust you. You watch our back. That’s what matters.”
Clay was shaking now. I pulled him into a hug as he quietly sobbed. As we sat there, Alex and Travis joined the hug.
In a choked voice, Clay asked, “What if I’m a fag for real?”
I said, “Do you think that matters to us?”
Alex said, “I am. I’ve know it for a long time. I just couldn’t admit it to myself.”
I said, “Does that change the way anyone feels about Alex?”
Everyone shook their heads.
Clay said, “It’s all this crap that we do at the park. When we do it with each other, it’s fun. When some old fart is slobbering all over me, it’s just gross. It makes me feel like shit sometimes.”
Travis scooted over closer to Clay and said, “I know what you mean. It’s like I don’t feel like I’m worth anything. I was thinking the same thing you were- why would anyone want to be my friend.”
Alex said, “I guess that when you sell a little piece of yourself for thirty bucks a pop, that’s all you figure that you’re worth.”
“For now the park is a necessity”, I said. “It’s the only place that you can make money. We can look into getting you jobs. There are some men at my church that help teenagers get jobs.”
Clay said, “You would do that for us?”
He grinned and said, “We’ll all owe you.”
I sighed, rolled my eyes and said, “Friends don’t owe friends just for being friends.”
Travis laughed and said, “Well damn. We’ll have to think up a new excuse for doing what we all want to do anyway.”
That started something pretty hot.
It took a while, and there were difficulties to overcome, but Alex and Clay both had jobs by Christmas break. Travis had a job by the time he turned 15 the following March.
We all moved on from the Park and found a better way. What it took was for four troubled boys to recognize the value in themselves through each other.
Our dignity was no longer for sale.
8 Years Later
We were all together again. It had been a long time. The four of us stood looking through the glass of the maternity room.
Clay beamed as we looked at his twin boys through the glass: Alex and James. Clay's wife Cheryl was in a room recovering. Never one to be overly dramatic, Clay kept a stiff upper lip but his eyes were misty.
Alex and his partner Patrick stood right beside him. The pair had met in college and made a really cute couple.
I stood on his other side with my own partner Jeff. I was crazy about him, and he loved me despite all of my baggage.
Travis and his girlfriend Shelia stood behind us.
It was one of those moments that you wish that you could fix in amber and preserve forever. We were all proud of each other and proud of ourselves.
Alex and I go back to the park occasionally. It is still there, and so are the kids. We talk to the ones that will listen. We tell them where we came from and that there is a way out. Most of them probably think that we’re full of shit or are trying to get in their pants for free, but we have to try. Since our time at the park, AIDS has emerged and the stakes are higher than ever.
For us, the Park was never a destination. It was a place in between our fears, feelings of inferiority and loneliness and the place and the people that we wanted to be. We were lucky. We found a way out. Many people don’t. When I’m back there, I still see some of the same lonely, lost souls that were there all those years ago still driving around in circles going nowhere.