I Survived Life As A Teenage Stray (Or, What’s Viral Energy?)

The basement was cold, but I was colder. I was 15 years old, a runaway, slinking from one shady acquaintance’s apartment to the next. Somehow I ended up at a house rented by a stripper named Sally; her stage name was Samantha. She was in her mid-thirties and I recall that she had bright red colored hair extensions that were grown out to where I could see the glue bits frayed and exposed. Sally didn’t like me, she barely regarded me at all, only begrudgingly put up with me that night because I was brought over by one of her ‘colleagues’, another stripper who I had met at a bar where I had managed to get into frequently, even though I was many years younger than legal.

At the back of Sally’s house was a dirty kitchen where she and her boyfriend were heating up a pair of butter knives on the coiled element of the stovetop, then pressing between the hot knives a tiny ball of what they called ‘oil.’ I watched them suck in the smoke from the burnt oil. They motioned an offer for me to try it, I said “no thanks” and they burst into laughter. Annoyed, Sally told me to go to sleep in the basement; it was after 3 o’clock in the morning, and I was tired. I flipped on the stairwell light and as I crept down the stairs I heard her say, “Dumb fucking rich kid. What the fuck is she doing here?” (I was thinking the same.)

The smell in the basement was worse than the bitter poison of the burning drugs. The basement smell was rotten. I left the light on, a bare bulb in the center of a ceiling of floorboard underbellies. The wall-less room was empty, apart from a washer and dryer, furnace unit, and a sloppy line of plumbing pipes. In the corner was a purple curtain fringed with long tassels with metallic beaded ends that divided off a seven-foot pie slice of space from the rest. On the concrete floor behind the curtain was only an old comforter spread open, no pillow, no top cover. I knelt down on it—barely believing that this moment was real—removed my jacket, rolled it up, and laid my head on it. The furnace kicked in with a loud bang and a vacuum of air pressure began moving the dangling tassels on the curtain. I watched them swing like children in a playground and I fell asleep.

How I got there was both unlikely and common. I was a shy girl whose family moved around enough that it wore a thick skin around my soft innards; I used aloofness to cover up my terror of being conspicuous and friendless; I was full of angry hormones and confusion and before I knew what happened, I was stuffing my clothes in a black garage bag and walking out of my parents’ house in a tornado of shouting, crying, gasping for breath, and deep regret even before my heels crossed over the threshold and out of my home.

But, how I later got out of a life that could have killed me, if not merely murdered my soul, was supernatural. Through it all—the aloneness and vulnerability in the true sense of the words—there was a knowing inside me, I knew that I couldn’t take it too far, this dark and lost existence. I knew that this was not the life that I had signed up for; I had to find a way out of my self-inflicted despair. Yes—even while sleeping on the stripper’s basement floor, I knew that I had a purpose to live out. Although, it took the next twenty years to wake up to it.

At first, I cringed at the idea of telling you this. Yet today my life’s passion and greatest joy is to share with you my story, the stories of some others, and the magic that made possible my journey. There is a knowing inside you and I hope that this knowing at last jolts you wide awake. It’s an ancient truth as old as time and I have leveraged it to move toward purpose and happiness and make my inspired dreams come true, and I believe with everything that I am that you can too.

For better or worse, all energy is contagious. Good vibes, chronic sadness, and lasting joy are all contagious through the energy around you and the people that you spend time with. Do you ever think about the energy quality that you’re emitting and how others are subconsciously responding to you? And how this is affecting your companionability, your happiness and that of your loved ones, your success at your job, your earning potential, your relationships, and your health?

Physicists say that a transfer of energy through a sound pulse causes pendulums in proximity such as those inside clocks to synchronize, and while they will start off at different moments and strides, they soon begin to swing to the exact same rhythm and pace—they move together. And get this—it’s more than just clocks and pendulums. For instance, heart cells sync up to create your heartbeat. Furthermore, studies show that romantic couples in sync will also have heartbeats and breathing that are in sync. What’s more? The topic of women’s menstrual cycles in synchronicity has been well documented, and well-known among women who are roommates or family members within a household. You’re getting the idea now.

What if all of life worked on a pulse of sorts, and synchronized within a system of shared energy? It does. What if the quality of your life is the product of who you spend time with most, and their intentions and energy pattern; plus the energy of your own deep inner intentions; plus the environment around you including the energy of your city, the tone of what you watch on TV, and everything else that you are exposed to in your surroundings and interactions? Well, it is.

I managed to move from a life as a teenage stray to a life of purpose and happiness and it’s all because I noticed that I needed to swing with the life that I wanted, not with my current circumstances. In order for any of us to reach our true destiny, we have to start thinking differently.

Penelope and Kenzie face forward