From elite to Honolulu’s streets-who am I and why do I write?

I have been part of an elite sector of society–during my days as an undergrad at Harvard. My graduation from the college with high honors (Magna cum laude) will always be an accomplishment I can appreciate–as do most people in regular society.

But there is an “irregular sector of society and I belong there too. The world of the outcast is the existence defined by lack of acceptance by the mainstream bc you are considered inferior. You might be an outcast bc of who you are, like being the wrong race in the wrong place. Or you could be an outcast bc of what you do, like people looked down upon bc of drug addiction.

I know what it is like to travel the road from professional to pariah when shortly after my graduation from Harvard I was amazed to find myself dependent on something I had never physically seen before–illegal drugs. Things became even more unbelievable when I changed from a person who never missed an in time payment for anything, ever, became jobless and homeless in Honolulu, where I survived by hustling money to get drugs to gain entry into the apartments of addicted men. I went between 10 or 15 different residences. Leaving personal possessions here, stealing stuff belonging to another similarly situated woman, there, I managed to get through life without a job, a residence, or a bank account. I was totally off the grid. How did I pull off this feat?

Men. I made use of men. It was easy to do in Honolulu at the turn of the 21st century when there was a street well known to locals, where people, men and women, traded sexual favors for money. Or if a guy did not want favors but companionship, these people would provide their time in exchange for money. Some of these men I saw on a regular basis for years and a few became friends, the kind not acknowledged in public. I met the guys in the area with apartments who had addictions but also a steady source of income not dependant on current achievements. The majority of them were retired military, many were Vietnam vets who only hung out with other vets. I formed deeper relationships with them because I spent more time with them. I was usually one of several women who dropped by bearing gifts in order to be allowed in to shower, change clothes, sleep, dye their hair. The things normal people do not do when they visit friends bc they do them at home, those were the necessities that motivated me to find indoor locations.

For years it was easy. It took under 10 minutes for a guy driving by to stop for me. Ten minutes or so later ,I would have a sum that ideally was around $100 but honestly, often fell quite short. I would be dropped off close to the person selling what I needed. Once the purchase was made I had to decide where I could go. Which guys had I alienated with my difficult personality and incessant tendency to tell the truth? Which guys endlessly harassed me, demanding more of everything even after I had paid the entry fee? Those were but a few of the considerations when choosing where to go for sleep and hygiene and even companionship.

I was in my 20’s, many considered me beautiful. I did not know enough to use my looks to secure a husband and a future–pre-feminist style, I know. I used my looks to secure adventures. Meeting new guys every day, going to their places in far flung parts of the island of Oahu, well, you can imagine the good and bad times I experiences. These experiences took my mind off of my lack of family and various heartbreaks. I was busy but not productive. I thought I could go on like this forever.

Nothing is constant but change. The guys with the apartments died or became homeless. Honolulu responded to community pressure to clean up downtown by interrupting the demand side of the street trade. Female undercover cops posed as working girls and men were arrested. That was not the deterrent. The deterrent was the possibility that if a guy got arrested for solicitation his picture might appear on the news. Guys turned to a tool rapidly increasing in popularity–the internet. There was no longer guaranteed money in minutes when a woman walked to a certain street. Another factor contributing to change was incarceration. I went to a place where more women were younger than me than older. I was aging without even a stable address on record to show for it.

Circumstances allowed me to get a place. Cutting off downtown people enabled me to keep the place. If I never did anything adventurous (or stupid) again, I would still have thousands of stories rattling around in my head. Maybe I had something to teach. I knew I had tales to entertain. Thus, out if a sense of not wanting all that time spent on the street to be for absolutely nothing, I began to record my experiences in this blog. This is the short version of how I came to know what I know and why I have written the words you now read.

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