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Age 22

Turning 22. I didn’t really get anything when I actually turned 22, but the first dividend payment I got was early April for $7,000. I knew with this $7,000 I needed to leave. I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I knew I needed to get out of the Bay area and out of the situation I was living in. With my new mentality and some money, I found no better place to go than Louisville, I knew people there. I didn’t know anywhere else, so I went to Louisville, stayed with the Don and his family and also reconnected with the sailor man. I explained to the sailor man what my vision was. I told him my theology and we recruited two other people. It was the four of us. We were just buddies to hangout with and tried to make money any way we could. During that time, I wrote, give or take, 140 different quotes in a week with the intention to provide different ways for people to make money.

We were making tee shirts. This was around Thunder Over Louisville and the parade, For the Kentucky Derby, there was going to be a lot of people. We made a lot of tee shirts. We started a car detail business. That was going pretty well. In the beginning, the four of us had great ideas and it was working well. I got a little apartment. We called it the Honeycomb Hideout.Our car detail business was in front of the Dons house oh, he also allowed us to use his pressure washer in the beginning he did not think anything of it he thought it was a joke and we were not going to make any money. After a couple of days when he saw we were generating a healthy profit he wanted to take his cut which destroyed the business.

we didn’t have any other legal ways of making money and alcoholism is a fast way to go broke. $7,000 was a lot until it wasn’t, if that makes sense. We’re having a good time. Again, I hadn’t learned the lesson of being patient and don’t spend money on frivolous things like alcohol and buying everybody food when you’re not making any money. I did not learn that lesson. You would have thought I would have learned the lesson, but I didn’t, so I ended up going broke relatively fast. At this point in time, I had met another girl. She was from Louisville. She was not a girl I wanted a future with. It was just convenient at the time. I knew I was going broke and I did not want to be broke in Louisville. 

I fly back to California and I talk to moms and I’m like, “Moms, I’m broke. I know I wasn’t supposed to come back, but I’m broke. I’ll give you some money when I have the chance.” I had literally no money, but enough. I wasn’t stupid. I had enough to get home to mom’s house, so I could eat until the end of June, which was the next payment. My girlfriend was like, “Come back to Louisville.” I was like, “No. If I go back to Louisville, I will be broke and I will have nowhere to stay. I won’t have any money for five weeks.” She’s like, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it at all. I’m not going to kick you out.” I was like, “All right.” I hopped on an airplane and basically spent the last amount of money I had. I had maybe $50 to my name at the airport and she gets cold feet. I’m in Louisville. It’s midnight. I don’t even have enough money to really get anywhere, plus nobody knows I’m in town, this is before iPhones and technology. I was stranded at the airport.

Finally, she came and picked me up, I’m already stressing out, I’m like, man this is not a good situation. I’m regretting every minute of my decision. We get to her house and everything is hunky dory for a day or two. She has three kids, all boys. It’s me, her three boys and her. The first, Like I said, for the first couple of days, everything was cool until I found out she has a boyfriend, now I’m in an interesting situation. I don’t have a phone, so this posed a problem. I finally reached my people, It wasn’t as simple as today. Today it seems like, “Why didn’t you just pick up the phone and make a phone call and call them?” We didn’t have cell phones. Not everyone had cellphones at the time. Today it’s like, “Oh, it’s just easy. You can pinpoint where you are, you call an Uber and you’re ready to go.” At that point in time, technology wasn’t there, so it wasn’t as easy as that.

I’m stranded at her house. I don’t know where I am. I’m not stupid, I was not going to get into a fight with somebody in their environment. That doesn’t make a bit of sense. I don’t know where I am. This is where he lives. The odds are against me. I stayed upstairs with the kids and then the next morning, my people came and got me and brought me to the hood. I’m like, “Fuck.” I have no money and I’m stuck in the hood. You’d think like, “All right, why didn’t you just go to the end of the street and go fuck with your people?” that wasn’t an option. I was homeless with nothing to eat. If you remember years before and I was traveling from California to Kentucky, The Don’s family, I went in one time, I was starving. I went in the fridge, three weeks before everyone thought I was broke, it wouldn’t have been a problem, but now everyone thought I was broke and now it was a problem. I was stealing food.

 Now I was a thief. Not only was I homeless and everyone was making fun of me, I was a thief. Years later, all was forgotten, but at that point in time, they all just turned their backs on me, but at the time it was different because I developed friendships with different people. During that time, I had one book with me and it was “the 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Greene. while homeless, I was reading probably one of the best books I could have ever read. I look back on that time and it was almost one of the most pivotal points in my life because while most people would be crying about being with no food, no money, no nothing, I had been in this situation before, if you had read the story to this point. I had already been in this situation, so I wasn’t as stressed out as maybe everybody else. Sleep outside? Hey, okay. I did that for days upon days. Being starving, well we did that. My buddy from Cascade showed me how to survive being starving. I had a lot of people.

The new crowd of people taught me, maybe they weren’t the healthiest of people, but they also showed me the inner city loops of where to eat. We learned on this day you can eat a lot of food over here. They give you free food here. Over on this day, they give you free food here. I started to understand the system of where to go get free food and how to survive. There was an abandoned house, so I was sleeping in an abandoned house until sailorman decided to break all the windows and cause a ruckus, so that was no longer an option. I started sleeping outside, I made two phone calls at this time. The first phone call was to my sister, my eldest sister. The one that I used to live with then they had the baby. I told her, “Look, I’m in a bind and I need some help. I’ll pay you back once I get some money.” It’s obvious I’d pay her back because she gets the same amount of money as I did.

She knew my word was good. What she said was, “Wait. I need to ask my husband.” I took that as, you’re my sister and I’m asking you for help, but I’m not important enough in your life for you to just say yes? You have to ask permission from somebody else? When she said that, that moment right there ruined our relationship forever. Our relationship was never… To this day, it’s never been close from that moment. I felt like she betrayed me and she turned her back on me. Now, she came back and she said, “Yeah, me and my husband decided that’s okay.” I was like, “You know what? I got myself into this and I’ll get myself out of it. I don’t need your help.” I felt like she betrayed me, so I told myself I don’t need you anymore. Since that point in time, I haven’t really had a relationship at all with her.

The second person, I called a different buddy from Cascade. If you remember back in the story when I first got out of programs, I stayed at his mom’s house and she let me use the car so I called him. The first thing he said was, “Go to a hotel.” He’s like, “I don’t care which hotel. Go to one of those weekly hotels and then call me and how long do you need? Okay, I got you. Don’t even worry about it.” I said, “I’ll pay you.” He’s like, “Erik, go.” I said, “All right. All right. I’ll call you right back.” I thought about it for a second and that confidence, knowing I’m okay, it gave me the ability to accept my situation. I wasn’t desperate anymore, if that makes sense. Yes, I was homeless. I had no money. Everything was shitty, but I wasn’t desperate. I knew that at any given moment, I could change my life, so I chose not to. I called him back, and I said, “You know what man? I appreciate your offer, but I’m not going to take it. I got myself into this and I’ll be fine and I’ll get myself out of this.” I did not accept the offer. He was like, “All right.”

Now, I’m in Louisville homeless and like I said, I was sleeping outside. A friend said it was too dangerous to sleep outside, I wasn’t going around begging for help. I was perfectly fine. Anything that I needed was a little bit of food here and there, but they were showing me how to do that, so were people starting to take care of me? Yes, because I didn’t ask for help. I was going to figure this out by myself. Plus, I was reading the 48 Laws of Power, so when your mind’s completely grasped on a topic, then it was fine. One of the people, I was taken under the wing by a few different people. I told you they showed me the ropes. Well, besides the food because he basically said in Louisville there is no way you can go hungry or go without a drink. Me and, we’ll call him OG, me and OG, I did my reading everything. We’d wake up, he’d go to work or whatever and then some time throughout the day, we would do our rounds and we’d start walking to each of the liquor stores in each liquor store, people would be passing around bottles of liquor, so by the end of it you’re good. You’re drunk and someone might have extra food, some extra chicken wings or something. Offer. “You want a chicken wing?” I’m like, “All right,” and eat it up.

It made life not as bad as it really was. The only part that was bad was when you would sleep or when you’re not around people, like when you’re alone. If you can wear yourself out or drink yourself, get yourself to the point where you’re just going to pass out, then you’re passed out and the loneliness and everything doesn’t stick because when you’re alone, you’re sleeping and then when you wake back up, it’s a new day. It’s a new day to figure out, to strategize. It’s a new day to go hangout with your buddies or whatever. It’s a new day to occupy your time, to where you’re not lonely. During some of those interactions with the people in the liquor stores, I was thinking heavily about going back to North Carolina and search out my biological family for personal reasons. I had nowhere really to go. I didn’t have any family. Yeah, my black family in California. I loved them, but hell no. I didn’t want to live in that situation. I wanted out of that situation. It was not a healthy environment for me. My eldest sister and I’s relationship deteriorated because of what I just explained.

My relationship with my little sister, me leaving California when I did, my aunt felt like I betrayed her, but she didn’t quite understand the environment that I was living in, that I had to get out of that environment by any means possible. At that point in time, I didn’t have a home. I was a wanderer. I knew by the end of June I’d get, I think it was $20,000. I knew for five weeks all I had to do was survive. I think it was four and a half weeks and I had talked to the bank. The money was sitting there. She could have at any given time, the bank could have released it to me. It was mine. It’s just sitting there, but she said, “Nope.” I was like, “Look Ms. Bank Lady, please can I have a little bit?” She’s like, “Okay. I’m going to give you $3,000. Now, don’t ask me for any more money.”

I took the $3,000, I gave everyone who helped me a celebration BBQ. It’s weird, when I was broke with all these people, I was on their level and they respected me, but then the second I had money, then they changed. Being stingy with the food. “Well, I helped him more than you did. I’m entitled to more than you.” I was trying to thank all of them for helping me survive, but crabs in a bucket.

Now, the next adventure. I flew right back to California. I had nowhere else to go. My cousin, the one that I was telling you that the two of us had grown a bond together, he picked me up from the airport. I wasn’t going to mom’s house. I had a little bit of money. I was like, “Man, I’m fucking with you.” Literally, I went to work with him. Everyday, because he had a driving job, so everyday he went to work, I went to work with him. We’d ride around together all day. That was basically what we did. Then, on the weekends we’d party around the area. Now, my drinking was terrible at this time. I started drinking and I ended the day drinking. It was drinking, drinking, drinking, drinking, drinking, drinking, drinking. My mouth would be… I didn’t drink water. I drank beer or I didn’t drink orange juice. I drank a mixed drink. Alcoholism. Partly because I had been spending the last five weeks in a liquor hall everyday, so my alcoholism, my tolerance level was sky high.

I didn’t put two and two together until right now, why my alcoholism was worse. Yeah, because I had just been around a whole bunch of raging alcoholics. Get back to California, me and my cousin, we were talking. Let’s go to Vegas. He’s like, “You ain’t going to go.” I was like, “Man, let’s do it.” We were like, “Fuck it. We’ll go.” We went to Vegas and his wife was pregnant at the time. I knew his wife. I mean, I had babysat for his wife when his wife had to go to work, if you remember the story. Pay attention. We had our own relationship. Just as a friendship. We knew each other comfortably enough all three of us to go to Vegas and share a room. We’re hanging out in Vegas. We’re having a good time. The nights were really cheap if you go to Vegas before an event, rooms are manageable. We went during the week and rooms were $50, maybe $75 a night. That weekend, they went up to $300 a night. $75 was a deal. 

We’re at the MGM Grand having a good time. I was like, “You know what? If you guys can stay an extra day, I got one more night.” They were like, “All right. Fuck it.” Everyone was having a good time. My cousin would be playing black jack. I tried to play with him one time then he cussed me out because I didn’t, “play by the rules,” right. I was like, “Well fuck you. I’ll be over here with your wife putting pennies in the slots, getting free drinks.” The whole gambling thing, I didn’t know you had to play by rules when you’re playing black jack, so gambling like that never was really exciting to me. Yeah, I gamble, but not really. I don’t take it seriously. It’s just a game of change and I know in the end I’ll lose. I had my fun playing the slots and just getting free drinks. Like I said, I was an alcoholic, so it was a paradise. I truly do love Vegas. Well, the last night, because like I said, we stayed an extra night, my cousin and I was like, “Yeah, we’ll go out.”

We ended up going to Studio 54. Before the night closes, he’s talking to somebody and I’m by his side and then this girl comes up and the two of us start talking. I had no idea the conversation was going to turn into something, but I was like, “Shit, I got some weed. You want to smoke?” She was like, “Yep.” All three of us went back to the room; me, my cousin and the girl I just met. His wife is asleep, we go to the bathroom and we smoke and we start talking. She starts telling me that she lives in Prague. I was like, “No way, man.” We just started talking. We talked the entire night. We didn’t do anything sexual. We didn’t do anything. We just talked and made a plan to meet in Prague in a few weeks. I was like, “I’m going to go see my sister in North Carolina, but after that, I’ll fly from North Carolina to Prague.”

She was like, “I’m with my family,” she was on vacation seeing her family. She was a DJ, so I think she had to get more DJ equipment or had a couple gigs or whatever, then she would be heading back to Prague. I was like, “Perfect.” First thing in the morning, she’s gone. We say goodbyes. Of course, we have each other’s phone numbers and then she’s gone. We go back to California. I’m planning my trip to North Carolina. We didn’t go into any of this throughout this story, but I wanted to talk to my nanny from when I was growing up. “What? You had a nanny? What part of the story was this?” Yeah. Well, my sisters don’t like when I say we had a nanny, but she was at the house a lot of the time. She helped my mom do everything. She did the laundry. She babysat me when I was a little kid. When my mom and dad went on vacation, I’d stay at her house. I would say that was more or less like my nanny. She was black, which was even better. “Did you grow up around all white people?” No, my nanny was black. No, I grew up around a black person. My nanny and her family. I called her and I was like, “You know what, nanny?” She has a name, but I’m not going to mention it. “By any chance do you know the Hardys?” I gave my biological mom’s name, She said, “The name sounds familiar. I’ll look into it for you.” Now, we planned this for a couple weeks and she said nothing. We got the time when I was going and I told my sister okay. I planned to see my sister the next day. My cousin drops me off at the airport. I arrived in Asheville, I had not been to Asheville for years. I was coming from the Bay Area, California where we have three international airports to Asheville where everybody was white. That was the first thing I noticed. I’m like, where the fuck am I?

I was like, I was born here? I’m going down the escalator to go get my stuff because I remember the airport from when I was little and I noticed a black lady and a black guy. I grab my bags, get my camera ready and I’m like, man where’s my nanny? The same black lady and the same black guy come up to me and they’re like, “Hey. How are you doing?” Now, I had just been on an airplane all day from California and I am in a culture shock of seeing trees and listening to bugs. I am not in the mood to talk to anybody. When these two people came up to me, I’m thinking they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses or something like that, trying to sell me something, so I’m as rude as possible. I’m like, what? They’re like, “I hear you’re out here looking for somebody.”

Now, I’m really thinking they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’m like, “Nobody that you would know. What are you doing? Leave me the fuck alone.” Then, they’re like, “I hear you know Sister Avery.” I was like, oh shit. “Well, yeah.” That’s my nanny. They’re like, “We’re them. I’m your mom and this is your brother.” At that point in time, it’s right when the camera starts recording because I’m getting ready for my nanny to come. I’m like, “What?” They’re like, “Yeah. I’m the person you’re looking for. I’m your mom and this is your brother.”

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