The time has come for me to bring this project to a close. My creativity is beckoning me to other places and projects, and in order to make way for this burgeoning energy, I have decided to move on.
First, I want to express deep gratitude to everyone who has opened up to me and shared space with me in person and in communication on facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and via email. Your stories, your energy, your support, and your feedback have given me so much and I am truly grateful for the time and interest you have given.
Humans of Portland has represented such an amazing chapter of my life. It has fostered who I have become as a communicator, a photographer, and a compassionate human being. I have learned a great deal from hearing about individual journeys that are so different than my own, and enjoyed sharing in the places where we overlap. This project has opened creative and professional doors for me, given me huge opportunities for spiritual growth, and through it I have met some incredible people who have become dear friends.
I am currently in various stages of new projects that I’m excited to share as they become ready. If you are interested in my photographic journey as I move forward, I welcome you to find me here: (Briana Cerezo Photographyhttps://www.facebook.com/BrianaCerezoPhotography) and on Instagram (@brianacerezo). My website www.brianacerezo.com is undergoing a complete overhaul and I’m excited to share it soon.
In closing, I’m posting many Humans of Portland portraits that have until now, have not been posted, for various reasons. (To see all the newly posted photos, some with quotes, please visit the facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HumansofPDX)
Be well, and please remember to practice loving compassion for yourself and those around you. We all have so many stories to tell, and reasons for the places we are at on our journey. We are all human.
I learned that yesterday was International Lolita Day.
Seen outside the Ace Hotel.
“Have you always been straight edge?”
“Yeah, I made a conscious choice about it when I was 13.”
“What was your thinking behind it?”
“Well, I’d seen a couple kids get shot for selling marijuana when I was young. And my dad drank a lot…he doesn’t hardly anymore. I think once you’ve seen that, you either go one way or the other. You either completely turn away from it, or you go into it. I don’t mind being around it though. I don’t care if you’re a vegan straight edge anarchist or a heroin addict. The other night two of my friends were sitting talking about where to get the best heroin, and another friend and I were right next to them talking about our dogs.”
“What else do you want in life or want to do?”
“I have everything I want. I have a close community of friends. I spend my time how I want. I have my dog. I’m Happy. What else could I want? I’m not trying to say I’m a healer or anything, but rather than focus on my own selfish goals, I want to help my friends get out of the cycle of gangs and drugs and prison. I’m more motivated to help my own community where I came from than anything else.
“I think there is a lot of dehumanization toward people in gangs. The way I see it, they are just kids stuck in a cycle who don’t know what else to do. Every time I go home I’m trying to bring kids with me to get them out of that cycle. At least give them a chance to do something else with their life.”
“When did you go home last?”
“About three months ago.”
“What does your family think about the way you life your life?”
“My youngest brother thinks its cool, my other brother doesn’t really ask questions, my dad completely disapproves, and my mom is ok with it; she just tells me to be safe. I think my dad is just mad because he told me I couldn’t get away with living my life this way, and I still am.”
Part 3 of 3.
We walked a number of blocks to a restaurant I knew would have food options for Happy, who is vegan. I went inside to order food for us both while Happy stayed outside to keep an eye on his dog, Salchi, and to call his mom.
We sat on a grassy patch of lawn across the street, and I asked Happy questions while we ate, and I fed little pieces of beef from my lunch to Salchi.
“Where are you staying right now?”
“In a foreclosed house, in the basement. I’m there by myself for now, but I have some friends coming from Eugene to join me.”
“How does that work? Do you have water and electricity in a house like that?”
“Well, if you have the right tool, you can turn the water on for the whole block for free. Getting electricity is a bit more difficult because you need generators.”
He went on to talk about the other cities he’s traveled to. “The best places to squat are in Danville, California, and in Louisiana. There are tons of squat houses there. I don’t like the presence of the traveling culture in Louisiana, though.”
“Well, most of the squat homes there are from people who lost their homes after Hurricane Katrina. My friends would identify empty houses by the red paint on them. Like it would say ‘2 dead’ and have an X on it. That’s how people notified authorities during Katrina, and the houses are still marked that way. So there are all these people in that area who have been forced into homelessness, and then there are all these traveling kids who are just there panhandling enough to get drunk that day. I told myself I wouldn’t go to NOLA again because I don’t like what traveling culture has done there.”
Part 2 of 3.
Happy (http://humansofpdx.com/post/91358663267/my-names-happy-my-friends-gave-me-the-name-my) agreed to meet up with me again over the summer. I found him at Laughing Horse Books (which has since closed), reading about trains from a photocopied zine. I asked him about it.
“It’s kind a secret guidebook for traveling kids. It’s not supposed to be shown to anyone outside the community, and you’re not supposed to sell it to anyone except for the cost of photocopying it.”
Given it’s touted secrecy, I didn’t ask to look at it, but did ask Happy what it contained.
“A lot of safety information. It tells you all kinds of do’s and don’ts about riding trains. Like about slack action. When the trains start and stop. You know, don’t put your foot on the coupling between cars or you could lose a foot. Only ride in empty box cars. Even if the cargo seems secure, it could shift and you could die. Only ride in the big, giant bucket cars if they’re empty… I know two kids who died that way… And don’t ride in the coal cars because they might get filled at the coal yard and you’ll die. Stuff like that.”
Part 1 of 3.
"Experiment! Fashion is supposed to be fun, so mix it up!"
At the Pride Parade.