11.14.11

I usually try my hardest to keep my blog as professional as possible. This meaning I don’t discuss relationships or what I had for breakfast, but instead just try to share special visual moments and bits of local news. But today, I’m making an exception. Why? Because I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m genuinely fucking sad. This past Saturday held promise of nothing really out of the ordinary. I had made plans with my good friend, Pat, to see Kurt Vile play at Union Transfer but I woke up feeling pretty awful. I had a terrible head cold and an assignment to shoot at the Convention Center that morning. I forced myself out of bed and pushed through the assignment. Bought some produce at Reading Terminal, stopped at my local coffee shop for a tea and a couple bottles of fresh orange juice. I then took a nap, trying my best to liven up for the show. I spoke to Pat on the phone and he offered to walk to my house later on and pay for a cab from there to the show since I wasn’t feeling so good. Hanging up from our phone call, I remember thinking to myself that I wished I had more friends like him. We’ve been friends the past four years and he’s always gone out of his way to make me as happy and comfortable as possible.

I woke up from my nap feeling the same as that morning. I blew my nose a hundred times and put on maybe a little more mascara than usual, trying my best to feign a picture of perfect health. Pat texted me about ten minutes before 8 and told me that he was leaving his house in a minute to walk over. I waited downstairs since I knew it wouldn’t be long – he only lived about a mile away. A half hour passed and I hadn’t heard from him. I wasn’t worried but rather slightly annoyed. I figured that maybe he was fussing around in his studio and lost track of time. I knew he was excited for the show and that he wouldn’t make me wait too long. An hour passed. This really wasn’t like him. I’m the one that’s always running late. It’s an ongoing joke in our relationship that if I tell him a time, he then mentally converts it to “Kait Time” since I’m always running about 15 minutes late.

My roommate volunteered to ride his bike up and down Frankford Avenue between my street and his to see if he could find him walking along. Ten minutes later, he arrived back saying he hadn’t seen him. I began calling some of Pat’s good friends to make sure that they hadn’t spoken to him. I mean, there’s always a chance that our friend Kiel convinced him to grab a quick drink. When I realized that no one had heard from him for the past few hours, I started to panic. Pat wouldn’t do this and something terrible had happened – I was sure of it. I called the police and shortly after an officer arrived at my house so that I could file a missing persons report. I started explaining to the officer that my 28-year-old friend was missing, that I knew it had only been a few hours, but that it was so uncharacteristically like him that something had to be wrong. Just as I began to explain him physically, the cops eyes lit up. He had heard of a tall guy with long hair being recently rushed into the emergency room. The “guy” was beaten pretty badly and robbed at the corner of Amber & Dauphin (a block from my house) and found unconscious by a neighbor of mine. The three guys that did it were already locked up because they had jumped another guy that night and he was able to ID them. As soon as he told me the hospital room Pat was in, I was out the door. I arrived at the hospital and was told his parents were already there with him and that I had to wait outside. I called Pat’s two closest friends I had called earlier to let them know that I had found him – that he was in the hospital and I hadn’t seen him yet. They arrived shortly after and shortly after that, I was allowed into the room.

The image of Pat laying on the hospital bed in the ER is an image I will never be able to erase from my mind. I want to say that his eye was the size of a golf ball, but in reality it was probably the size of two. It was purple and blue and his head was oozing blood from multiple places. I broke down and started to sob uncontrollably – sobbing for the fact that he looked so hurt, for the fact that if I hadn’t made him walk to my house that night that this would have never happened, for the fact that for a few hours, I literally thought he was dead. He held my hand the entire time of my visit and assured me that he was okay and that everything was going to be fine. He had a fracture above his eye and a few in his back and shoulder but it was nothing that a few weeks of heavy meds and rest couldn’t fix. I convinced him and his parents that it was a good idea that he stay with me until he felt well enough to walk around and do things on his own.

The past few days have been full of  snacks and bad television and lots of laying around. I’ve gone through a whole range of emotions. At times I feel incredibly happy, almost ecstatic. I feel lucky that my best friend is alive and on the path to recovery and fortunate that I can be of some sort of help to him. But then there are moments that I feel so frustrated and angry that I almost feel tears building up. Today we found out that the three guys that jumped him were 14, 16, and 22 years old. Two of them probably aren’t even old enough to get the punishment they deserve. These three people left my best friend bleeding and unconscious on the street. On my street. They hurt a guy who goes out of his way to help others – someone that is known for making other people’s days better. Everyone that knows Pat not only thinks he’s ridiculously hilarious but they love him and think of him as a great friend.

It’s wrong to say that anyone deserves to be unjustly beaten on the street. Duh, it’s unjust. But Pat is probably one of the last people I know that deserves it. I took these portraits of him today so that people can see a realistic portrait of our society. A society where young teens are running around beating others senselessly. A society that maybe doesn’t pay enough attention to their kids. I know nothing about these young men and their backgrounds so I can’t really comment on their upbringing. I keep thinking back to the speech that the Mayor gave to his church this past August. It was in response to all of the flash mobs – a call to all parents in the city to start taking full responsibility for their kids and their actions. I don’t know what needs to happen, I just know that something does. I don’t want to live in a world where the people that make my life worth living are brutally beaten. And I can’t think of anyone that does. As cliché as it sounds, I’m going to try my hardest to use this experience as a sign to not take any day for granted and a sign to let those close to me know that I love and care for them. Because with the way things are going, who knows when it could be my last.

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Comments
12 Responses to “11.14.11”
  1. zeegisbreathing says:

    A scary story and one that is too familiar…I’m glad he is going to be okay. Its always terrible to hear about things like this happening in a city I love so dearly. Lets hope that things will change for the better…

  2. Katrina Mansfield says:

    I looked like that a few years ago. I had a few eye surgeons… can Pat move his right eye? Or is it “stuck?” Can he see out of it? Will he need cataract surgery in the future?

    Has he applied for victims compensation? (up to $35K for crime-related medical bills)

    Does he have (enough) health insurance?

    Please get in touch if you would like some recommendations: nolibstownwatch@gmail.com

    • kaitprivitera says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on this post. He can move his eye and surprisingly he can see. He has to go back to the doctor soon to make sure that everything is okay with it. Luckily he was fortunate enough to have full health insurance. I will pass on the advice about victims compensation, though. I’m sorry that this happened to you as well. Thank you.

      • jon says:

        This really breaks my heart. About four years ago I was riding my bike at night along Frankford Ave. and a passing car threw a bottle of frozen water at my face, hitting me square in the eye. One emergency room visit and six hours of blindness later, I left with a broken nose, fractured eye orbit, and about two weeks of missed work. I just don’t understand the destructive nature of that neighborhood, or for that matter, this city itself. Three months later I moved out of Fishtown and have not stepped foot in that neighborhood again. Thanks for the post and a speedy recovery to Pat.

  3. I live in the neighborhood too and was jumped off my bike a few years back by a couple of kids. Things like this make me worry well ever be able to make this neighborhood better… but we gotta keep trying.
    Im glad those 3 were caught at least… wouldnt be surprised if one or 2 of them are the same that jumped me

    • kaitprivitera says:

      @ Jon – I’m sorry that that happened to you. It’s such a shame that people don’t think about the consequence of their actions – or wait, they do, and they just don’t care. Unfortunately, there are shitty people everywhere, so in return, this kind of stuff happens everywhere. Thanks for reaching out. I will send your well wishes!

    • kaitprivitera says:

      @ Dale – This neighborhood has seen a lot of change for the better over the years. But senseless acts like this are a reminder that it’s no where close to being where it needs to be. I’m not really sure what needs to happen. I think that moving out because of something like this would be admitting that they win, that violence wins. So, I plan on staying for the time being. Trying to think of ways to stop all of these hateful crimes is kind of like thinking about black holes for me. I just can’t really wrap my head around it…yet. I’m sorry that you had to go through that. And it’s scary that you think being on a bike, you’re safe from it all. I guess not. Thanks for reaching out.

  4. tillitshines says:

    I am so, so sorry to hear about this. Pat is just the nicest, sweetest guy, this is awful. I went to bed last night feeling really bad about what had happened to him and the violence in general that has been happening around the city, especially lately. This morning I woke up to find that someone had been shot in front of my house, in front of my living room window (3rd & Bodine). There was a good deal of what I will call evidence where the crime had taken place (after a call to the city I was told only that I was was responsible for hiring a private company to clean the scene). The mess is of course not what makes me deeply saddened and upset. It is that now there is a 29 year old neighbor of mine that may never walk again if he does indeed survive as his spinal cord was severed by the bullet (from what I was told). The shooter was not caught. I don’t know what we can do to make things better around here… My thoughts are with Pat, glad that he has health coverage, hope his recovery is speedy as possible.

    • kaitprivitera says:

      I just clicked over to your blog, and realized that we’ve met before! Mike’s girlfriend, right? I had no idea you were a photographer! Great photos.

      And you are completely right. Pat is the nicest, sweetest guy. That is one of the reasons I’m so heartbroken about the whole situation. He is back at his apartment now and seems to be doing a lot better. Everything is going to be fine.

      That is so unnerving about that shooting. And why would you be responsible for cleaning up the scene? That is absolutely ridiculous and completely unfair. Seems like it can’t be right. So sad to hear about your neighbor. Hope he is able to recover fully. Don’t lose hope or faith in humanity. Since writing this post, so many strangers have reached out sharing their stories and sending their best wishes to Pat. We all need to stick together. Hope you are feeling okay.

  5. cecilia says:

    Kait, this is really powerful. Thank you for sharing. Tell Patrick he is in our hearts.

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