ten years ago,i celebrated my fifteenth birthday on the streets of Manhattan. ten years ago,i was one of the people you see huddled in doorways or walking the empty subway with a paper cup to beg for spare change. maybe you even gave me a quarter. ten years ago,i gave something away that i shouldn't have done,because i was starving, because it was winter,and i wanted to live to see the spring. it was one time,only once,but i hadn't known that then,and i know i won't be able to forget it. but whatever.

how i ended up on the streets goes something like this (im going to tell it like a story because i luv stories,and because it hurts less like this) :there is a girl,who is named phoebe. she has a mother and a father,a sister named Ursula,except the mother is not her mother,and the father is not her father. this doesn't bother phoebe because she doesn't know yet,but it must have bothered her mother who isn't her mother,because when phoebe is fourteen,she walks in from to school to find her mother has taken her own life in the family kitchen. her father is in prison,and phoebes life as she knows it is over.

two weeks later,after some minor complications and details I won't go into,phoebe has left home. her new home becomes the streets and alley ways of Manhattan seamy underbelly,a place she adjusts to quickly because that is what it takes to survive. phoebe has become a street girl.

then come the years of waiting,of hunger and cold and fear,of uncertainty and of the things she tries not to think about any more...things that come back to her in the dead of night,that force their way to the top of her memory and leave her soul raw,her life stripped bare.

but that is in the past now. why think about things that cannot be changed?

im a different person now,or at least,that is what my life style would have you believe.

now I have a flat,a home,a job. a life that can be discussed easily and without raised eyebrows,over-loud voices or repeated statistics.

I drink coffee in a down town coffee shop with my shiny new friends that match my shiny new life. we sip cappuccinos and lattes,laugh loud at things things only we understand, flick our long shiny hair,flash our gleaming white teeth and soak up our perfection. we are shiny,all-American youth. we are wholesome,people-magazine readers,coffee drinkers,credit card holders,and that we pretend not to notice the rest of the world cant hide how we know that they're watching, and that's how we want it.

we are so perfect,we don't need anything that might hold us back. that basically means we only see our family's at thanksgiving and Christmas,we have no old or close friends except each other and we can live twenty years in today's and tomorrows. it means we try hard not to have pasts.

we do,obviously. of course we do. but what I mean is,we don't emphasize it. take Monica. she used to be fat. now she's not. you cant erase fifteen years of obesity with one size six pair of pants,obviously,but Monica comes pretty damn close,and she more than makes up for her past appearance anyway,by how she looks now....

no. wait. hold on a minute. im not being fair.

god,typical phoebe.

I'm saying all this cos I know what I mean,but I know I haven't given you the whole picture,because its a lot more complicated than i've painted it.....

because,if I want to be completely honest,if it wasn't for my friends,id most probably be dead by now. and yeah,i am being serious. gone the same way as my mom....family tradition.

. that wasn't a very funny joke. maybe that's why i'm crying...

there have been times when the only reason I kept living was knowing that I had friends who counted on me. that,and that I still remember how it hurts to have someone you love decide they don't love you enough to carry on living,and id never want to inflict this on anyone,ever.