"Wanna go the back way?" We strolled through the crowded alley behind the strip mall where they lined up rental cars for wash, scoping the pavement for scattered change, spit out by cleaning machines and hurried workers.
We were "those people." We sported Nike sneaks and Bose earbuds, but searched for coins at the car wash. We high-fived and bear-hugged, expelling enthusiasm far beyond what others considered appropriate. We were the ones who rifled up internal conflict for those that survived in shades of gray—drawn to the allure of living looser, freer, if even to pick up a penny on the sidewalk. Could they allow a moment of release before socially harnessing themselves back into the norm?
Whether we picked up pennies or not, wherever we went, whatever we did . . . people stared at us anyway. We were different, in an ecstatically quirky, offbeat way, and sometimes that made others uncomfortable.