Karrie walked up to me on a hot summer night when I was busking in front of the stairwell of the Episcopal Church in Saint Augustine, Florida.
I was in an ornery mood; I had only made about 8 bucks and had drank just enough to be pissed at the world for not appreciating my art.
She stopped in front of me and politely asked: "Excuse me, but could you help me get some beer?"
I snapped on her.
I hadn't even really looked at her, as that wasn't important; I was ready to rail against every skeezer in Skeezerkind and make her the sacrificial lamb, or scapegoat as that seems more fit; for anyone who; upon seeing 8 or 9 dollars in a buskers guitar case; has the gall to ask for a couple of them as a total stranger.
"I've made about 8 or 9 bucks the whole night; and you're asking me for some of it?!? What the fuck?!?" I said in as mean a tone as I could muster, though I didn't have to really muster hard, because my blood pressure was up and I must have looked like I might be the kind of guy that would jump up and hit a (defenseless) woman.
Then, turning sarcastic, I intoned: "Why don't you take all 8 bucks, would that be enough for you; and then I won't have anything?!?"
I had started to catch sidelong glimpses of her during this rant; and it tweeked upon my mind that I was chewing out a girl that might not be "that bad looking" and who might not be accustomed to getting such treatment from the opposite sex.
"I have money," drawled the 5 foot 2 girl, rather abruptly, and rather meekly, in what would turn out to be a rural Georgia accent; as if to stem the flow of my vitriol, producing a 20 dollar bill to back up her statement. "I just don't have ID, and they wouldn't sell to me..."
With my 8 or 9 dollars in my pocket, my pack on my back, and my guitar in its case, I embarked upon what I didn't know at that time was as 2 year walk alongside whom would turn out to be none other than Karrie Porras.
We were perfect together.
We were perfect together.
We were each screwed up, like jigsaw puzzle pieces are screwed up squares of cardboard; with what might be a beautiful picture on one side.
And, we snapped together.
So that you could see a much larger section of the whole picture and you could figure out where it belonged in the picture (...that's the little steeple in the pine forest over here, and part of this tree...)
We returned to the Episcopal Church with a 12 pack of beer; and went around back into a courtyard type of garden where there was a bench which we sat upon.
It was grown with vines and flowers.
I don't remember much of the conversation; but I can almost guarantee that, on her end, it was what she would wind up talking about tirelessly -ghastly, horrific stories; all of them biographical.
She was burned severely as an infant an had scar tissue on both arms, almost all of her back and whatever else was facing the fire. It seems that she, even at 8 months of age, knew to bury her face in the blankets and turn her back towards the heat.
I noticed that she had pretty eyes; and I learned about her scarred back after I started massaging it.
When I didn't pull back, repulsed by slippery tissue, and continued to massage it, we started to bond.
It was as if she was hyper sensitive where she had been burned.
After I had shown her some of the spots for sleeping and washing up; we sort of fell in together.
There was Henry Blacks porch, which was the front porch of a business which sold things like hammocks. Its floor was laid with a comfortable felt and, most importantly for Karrie, around the side of the building, in a 4 foot wide alley between it and the neighboring house; was a water hose.
Karrie was a frequent bather, stopping eventually at a variety of places, as she came to discover them, which had functioning water spigots to wash her feet.
If there was a water spigot anywhere in Saint Augustine, she would dowse it out, she washed her feet a few times a day.
She would move the 2 large trash cans; to block the view of the little alley and take a full shower on each of those hot humid evenings.
She loved lotions and potions.
"We smell good," she said to me one night, as she put her head on my chest.
We were on the porch and had washed up using some stuff which my friends, the Lidgleys, had sent from London.
Before I could respond, I heard a light snore come from her.
Would that everyone was so easy to please.
|And, in 2013 she walked up to me in New Orleans, after I had not seen her in 3 years...|
We met on an August night in Saint Augustine Florida, after she walked up to me when I was busking in front of the Episcopal Church, and asked me if I could help her get some beer.
I had only made about 7 dollars that slow night and I went off on her angrily; pointing out the fact that I had only made 7 dollars; and that she must have been crazy to think that I was going to give her any of it so that she could get beer.
She cowered a bit under my rage; but then meekly responded that she had the money (and produced a 20 dollar bill) but that she had no ID and the store was refusing to sell to her.
I calmed down and then eventually walked with her to the store; where we got a 12 pack of beer.
Returning to a spot behind the church, which I had discovered to be secluded and out of the sight of the law, we sat and drank.
I noticed the beauty in her eyes at that time; and eventually started to massage her shoulders; and discovered what she explained to be the result of her body being burned pretty severely when she was an infant. She had a lot of scar tissue on her back, especially, as evidence of it.
Her life growing up was just a gradual improvement upon being burned.
She grew up in the remote town of Dalton, Georgia in a house with no hot water, but electicity*
*It was the faulty wiring rigged up by Karries step-father which sparked the fire in which she was burned; and the delay between the time that her mother; who had left her alone in the house and gone up the street, noticed that her trailer was emitting smoke and the time that she rescued her; which contributed to the severity of her burns.
Yes, her step father, who is in prison now, for murder, abused Karrie, until she got to be about 16 years old; and he turned his attention to her younger sister.
Her mother caught her using some of her perfume and punished her by smearing her with sardine oil and making her go to school that way.
Latinas were not popular in the part of rural Georgia where the Porrass's lived; and Karrie said that she had rocks thrown at her; was called names; and once had her clothing stripped off her by a gang of kids, as she was on her way to school. "I had to go back home and get some more clothes," she said.
Karrie was the best homeless maker that I have ever encountered.
When we lived in the woods in Jacksonville, Florida, she would arise each morning at about 5 a.m.
As I lay on the floor of our large tent, which I had pitched atop a bed of sand which I had dug up, and I was grabbing one more hour of rest, I would hear the snapping of sticks, coming from well out in the forest.
She would return with an armload of the right kind of wood.
I had only had to show her once what hickory, red oak, live oak, pecan and walnut woods looked like; and after that she never erred in selecting wood from the forest.
She would place the bundle of wood by the fire pit; ready for me to ignite (she wasn't good at starting fires -she had had enough of a bad experience with one, I suppose).
Then, she would be off with 2 buckets, 5 gallons each, to fetch water from a spigot on the back of an office building about 500 yards away; and back.
One bucket was to be heated up for bath water, and to use for washing dishes, and clothing; all of which she did.
She also took the blankets out of the tent each morning, shook them out and then hung them on the clothes line, sprayed them with Lysol, and let them air out, before she crawled back in to the tent, armed with ammonia, which she used to wipe the floor with.
I built the fire and cooked the food, which we had in abundance, do to a certain market which threw tons of it out; only hours after its expiration date.
I went out and busked; while she held a sign asking for money. Together, we did alright. It seemed like, when I had a slow night and made less than 20 dollars; she would strike it lucky and make almost 100; and vice-versa.
I never had to worry about losing her; she had a nose for finding me; and would always seem to come walking up from out of nowhere, just at the time I was ready to pack up and go back to the camp.
But, the rest of this bio can be fleshed out by clicking on the label "Karrie," and reading the posts, I suppose. At the time of this writing; she remains #1 on the list of things that I have labelled.
She was threatened to be overtaken by another topic; but then showed up in New Orleans; spawning me to resume writing about her; and then labelling the post accordingly; and so she remains in the lead....