Posted by: Dan | June 15, 2005

David and I

David was a tough guy when he moved into our program. He came in talking about fucking bitches and bashing faggots. David rides girls like he rides his skateboard, fast, hard, and every now and again somebody gets hurt. He did some time when he was younger — he’s only 18 now — and I think he got in with some white supremacists. I’m not sure but, every now and again, there seems to be a veiled racism hanging under his words.

You see, where David comes from, they don’t give you respect. Respect is something you earn, something that you take, and it’s only given grudgingly.

In our briefings we would talk about David, we were constantly warning him about his language, his behaviour towards women, and members of the LGBTQ community that participate in our program. We were all pretty sure that things were going to come to a head one day, that David was going to explode, that we would have to come down hard on him for him to realise that we’re serious about what we say.

But David never exploded and we never had to come down hard on him. He just… changed. There was no big break through, no big blow-out, nothing. Suddenly the way he talked was different, suddenly he was treating queer and trannie youths respectfully. Suddenly he seemed just like any other kid that’s hungry for love.

And that’s what love is. Love is respect that is given freely. David never had to earn our respect, never had to take it from us. We were giving it freely to him since the day he moved in. And it changed him. David chose to respond. He suddenly found himself in a new and safe place and that enabled him to drop all his guards, to let his shoulders down, and be more like somebody he wants to be — not somebody he has had to be in order to survive. And so he did just that. He dropped his guards. He smiles and says that he’s happy to see me.

The thing is…

The thing is that when I compare myself to David I end up thinking he’s a far better person than I am. You see, I also had found a safe place, a place where I think I was loved more deeply than I had ever been. I too had somebody give me an unearned respect. But instead of letting down my guards and trusting like a child, instead of trusting like David trusted, I ran. I wrecked everything and I disrespected — disrespected in the deepest sense of the word, a sense which I only expect people involved with street culture to understand — the person who loved me and trusted me. With all my talk about love, and trust, and willing vulnerability, I find myself to be a more hurtful kid than David.

let it go
the damage in your heart
let it go
the damage in your heart
i can’t tell you how the words have made me feel
i can’t tell you how the words have made me feel

~ Weezer

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