Sunday, January 28, 2007
A Good Kid

I got a disheartening piece of news yesterday. I was at the Co-op, babysitting some ambitious young filmmakers shooting a scene (which is to say, a few guys with expensive toys making a derivative, uninteresting-looking pastiche of Tarantino by way of David Lynch -- that's what it looked like to me, anyway, but then, I'm bitter), when a friend who was acting in the scene came in to chat. He mentioned a local friend, D., whom I met years ago when he was a sweet-natured 17-year-old kid who needed a ride home. His home was reasonably on the way to my house, so I gave him a lift -- the first of many. His habit of bumming rides was sometimes irritating, but he was a good kid and I liked him so I didn't really mind.

When I met him he was disarmingly innocent in many ways -- he'd had a difficult growing-up, and seemed very disconnected from the black youth culture he would otherwise have blended into. He was awkward and a little unsure of himself, but coming to Midtown always seemed good for him; he made friends easily here. He moved into the local hippie commune a couple of years ago, started questioning his sexuality, and was obviously enjoying his life, which was good to see.

But he also started drinking and experimenting with drugs. Which, yes, is totally normal and not a bad thing necessarily. But there's a stupid-but-innocent way to use drugs, and a stupid-and-dangerous way. (There are also, I believe, some very sane and sensible ways to use them, but I think you have to be a bit older and more experienced for any of them to apply.) And it became apparent fairly soon that D. was doing more of the latter than the former. It's a difficult thing to quantify -- what's the difference between a 20-year-old doing some simple social binge drinking (as he's practically expected to do) and a 20-year-old who's losing control? Do I have enough faith in my ability to tell the difference to warrant concern on my part? Do I even presume to have an opinion? I've spent enough time around destructive alcohol and drug use to know that I can usually trust my gut. Sure, lots of 20-year-olds love to get smashed; but do all 20-year-olds jump on ANY pitiful excuse to do it? And yeah, 20-year-olds get really, really high just to kill and afternoon; but what happens when you realize you never see a person sober anymore? What does it mean when he loses weight and looks really good, and then keep losing until he just looks gaunt? He says everything is fine, he's just having fun... but that statement in itself is so predictable it's become a cliche. I don't know if I trust my judgement on the matter, but I'm certain that I don't trust his.

Since turning 21 and moving to Chicago last year, this friend told me, D. has changed a lot. Most of his local friends were angry at him for one thing or another by the time he left; he doesn't have much of a support system under him. He's got a job at an upscale sex shop, which he loves, so that's okay. But apparently he's doing a shitload of drugs. He makes unreasonable demands on his remaining friends, borrows money too frequently, and gets angry and surly. I expect the sweet-natured kid I knew is still in there, but it sounds like there's someone else taking over, and I don't know if I'd want to know that person for long.

Anyway, the point is, I've worried about D. for a while. He's a young black guy in a big city, carrying illegal substances around with him and using them in a way that doesn't seem quite right, even if I can't explain how. There's a lot there for someone to worry about. But he's a grown man now, and responsible for his own actions. I'm not his mommy, I wouldn't care to be, and couldn't do anything to change his situation even if I wanted to.

But I can't help feeling like I'm looking at a good person drifting around the periphery of a black vortex. I don't want to watch him go down, but I don't know what I could do to help him.

I hope he's okay.

PS: It's taken me forever to get this thing posted -- Blogger's acting stupid, which it does far too often. Speaking of which, at some point in the near future I'm probably going to have to switch over to "new" blogger, which I'm dreading. Every time they "improve" their system they end up fucking something up, usually in the general direction of making everything a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Yes, I should switch to WordPress. No, that's not likely to actually happen.

Anyway, if anything gets buggered around here, blame blogger.
2:16 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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