Remembering when

There are times when I find myself drifting back into the past. Some memories are good. Others not so much. But when an old friend passes, I drift back to a time that makes me laugh and makes my heart ache at the same time.

There was a time in the early ‘80s when I hung out with a group of people who meant the world to me. We laughed, cried, fought and bled together. We worked and partied (mostly partied) hard. We did our share of dirty deeds, sometimes to each other, but all was forgiven because we were family.

We came from different walks of life. Some, like me, had been homeless and some became homeless again. We were white, black, Hispanic, etc. No one cared about that stuff or who you slept with. No one talked about building walls or telling people to go back where they came from.

We listened to Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince. Heck, for a while, I was a metalhead. Things were just different then. Everyone had their ups and downs, but we all stuck together—not like today. Back then, my friends and I helped each other out, we took outsiders in and we kept each other safe.

Today, people don’t really look out for each other. It’s every man or woman for themselves. No one cares about their fellow man anymore. Today, hate seems easier. Hell, we’re even considering putting a guy in the White House who exudes hate—that’s sad. I know we had Reagan. We got the warnings, and we didn’t listen. And some weren’t old enough to vote then.

We talked to each other too and, hey, we even picked up a book or two, and no one walked around with their pants around their ankles. Maybe I seem like an old fuddy duddy (now there’s an expression you don’t hear anymore!), but seriously, times were a little easier then.

It did get worse as we got older. I drifted away from my friends and went down a path that eventually led me back to homelessness and jail. By the time I got out, many of them had gone their separate ways, and until Spare Change News, I never felt that camaraderie again. But I miss those times. I miss my friends.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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