“No crié un maricón!” my dad yelled as he punched upside the head. An excruciating pain consumed my skull all the while a sharp ringing as if someone was blowing a dog whistle arose. “Me das asco!” He struck another blow and I lost a couple seconds of memory. My father was 6 foot 4 inches and built like a truck. He’s a bus driver in South Central; natural he has a mean demeanor as to show anyone who goes on his bus who is boss. I could only imagine what he did to people who truly make him angry if he had the strength to nearly break his own son’s jaw. The warm metallic taste of blood filled my mouth. “Ayudame.” I gurgled as I tried to get the attention of my mom. “Qué coño dices maricón?” His foot made contact with my ribs and I let out a wail. I wonder how many ribs he broke. “Si no es así mi casa en 10 minutos te matará.” He walked away and left me broken and bleeding on the floor of my room.
How could my mom not do anything? How could she just let this maniac attempt to kill her “corazón?” Ever since I could remember she would tell me “I will always protect you like a mama bear protects her cubs.” Yet she let a hunter shoot and skin her cub right before her eyes.
I struggled to pull myself up but with every movement it felt like my dad was stabbing me over an over again. I wish he did stab me so I could bleed out and die, I bet the pain would be less excruciating than it is now. I grabbed my school bag and emptied its contents on the floor. I grabbed two different outfits, my toothbrush, my wallet, and what I had left of my life and stumbled to the door. As I was almost to freedom my mom grabbed my shoulder, “don’t go baby, we can get you help. We can send you to a therapist to make you not. This.” I looked into her chocolate eyes, which use to exude comfort but now only bring me sorrow, for what felt like an eternity. I turned around and walked out.
I hear about stuff like this happening all the time in places like Oklahoma or Kansas but rarely California. I grew up in L.A. and everyone here is gay. There are flamboyant, over zealous drag queens on practically every corner in West Hollywood. I shouldn’t have been beaten half to death because of my attraction to Mario Lopez, but I did.
Here I am walking through South Central with nowhere to go. The cold air feels like it is continuously poking at my wounds. I feel like collapsing with each step I take. I don’t know what to do and I’m scared.
“I’m gay.” The two words that inevitably, destroyed my life. With those two words my mom and dad turned their backs on me. They told me if I wanted to be in their will I had to “go back to being straight.” After months of them yelling at me and showing me pamphlets for conversion therapy and camps to “pray the gay away,” I came home to two large obsidian trash bags full of my clothes.
There they were, large bags stuff to max capacity. Kind of ironic because they were glad bags and right now I feel dismay. I feel like an abandoned mattress on a highway. They’re at a dinner party tonight, probably laughing and having a good time with their colleges. While, I am here sorting through my clothes deciding what to take. I grab a backpack and shove two outfits in it. I then make my way to the kitchen to grab a few snacks and on the counter I see a note.
Nina Emi Maki, you can live with us if you just stop liking girls. We didn’t raise you like this; you are better than this. If you choose the other life then do not bother staying. We will be home at 11 and expect you to either be the child we raised you or be out.
My parents gave me a fucking ultimatum. My whole life I did what they wanted, from after school activities, to deciding the college I was going to and what my career was going to be. I did everything to please them and now one thing isn’t to their image and I am getting kicked out.
I head to the door heart racing and palms sweating. My Hands trembling I reach for the doorknob and slowly twist the cold hard metal. I make my way done the front lawn and with each step it feels like someone is attaching weights to my ankles. I make it onto the sidewalk. I begin my journey with no destination in mind and for the first time I truly feel alone.
The first night was the hardest as you can expect, south central isn’t the nicest place. Gang violence, prostitution, and of course homelessness fill the streets. Just two blocks from my house I see a girl no older than me, dressed in a short distressed red dress, her hair looks like it hasn’t been washed in days, and the heels she is wearing have seen better days. A shiny black convertible pulls up to the sidewalk and rolls down its passenger side window. I see the girl walk up to the chariot of death. The two do some talking and in no time Hades sweeps up Persephone and they speed away. I hear about this all the time homeless youth becoming prostitutes in order to survive; only not everyone is lucky enough to make it back on the streets. Sometimes the guys will take the prostitute, boy or girl, use them, abuse them, and drop their bodies in a river or in a forest somewhere.
I continue to walk but I don’t know where to go. I don’t know of any homeless shelters and I don’t know where the best place for homeless people to sleep is, in South Central. Damn why couldn’t I prepare for this a little better.
As I walk I come across a run down park, and a lone bench. I make my way to it and collapse. The bench is rickety and weather worn. Its cold penetrates my clothes and it sends a shiver through my body, which in turn triggers pain. A pain that will never fully abandon me. My body feels like six linebackers, in a row used me for a tackling dummy. I close my eyes hoping the hurt and despair will go away, hoping that all of this is just a dream. But the cold hard bench and the rustle of the wind in the trees remind me this is actually happening.
I pray to god no one has to feel this pain.
Thank you parents for kicking me out of the house in a nice neighborhood. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like living in the areas of L.A. that are filled with gangs. I continue to walk and walk and walk. I don’t know the best place for a homeless girl to sleep. I know there are shelters more downtown but I have no idea where there are or even if their open this late. My parents always prepared me for life, I only wish they sent me to some sort of crash course for living without a home.
The night is cold and restless; the winds are exceptionally strong tonight. It’s like Fūjin, the Japanese god of wind, decided my life wasn’t nearly shitty enough. I have no idea how Holden Caulfield survived New York in the snow; he was also a pretty pathetic. His parents gave him everything but he continued to act out. He was never kicked out of his own home; he was kicked out of another boarding school and too afraid to face mommy and daddy. What a prick.
As I continue to walk the reality of the situation began to sink in. My parents will no longer be supporting me, they rather me not be there then to not fit their perfect standards. They were so quick to just dump me one the side of the rode like an unwanted couch. I am no longer a Maki I am just Nina, but do I even want to be called Nina, that was the name my owners gave me before they threw me out. If I’m garbage to them then that makes my name garbage. My thoughts completely changed when I came across a park. I strutted towards the first bench I came across and sat down.
“This is happening” I said to myself, “you can get through this.” I’ve always been prepared for everything in my life. I could solve any logical problem thrown at me. But this was something I wasn’t ready for and it was a problem I didn’t know how to solve. I laid down on the stone bench, the cold creeping through my clothes and greeting my skin. Hearing the wind continuously blowing through the trees I’m learning that no matter how shitty life is the world doesn’t stop for you. It just keeps going as if you are a speck of dust in a dirty room.
I hope no one ever has to go through this.