My entire life I have tried to be something else. I have wanted to escape into that alternate persona and, when I did, the plan was I could build who I wanted to be from there and abandon the abuse from my childhood and the stupidity of my teenage years. I needed to be someone other than I was. It was the only way I could escape from everything.

Then thirty years go by and here I am, the same person. Or am I?

I have been the Bear for as long as I can remember. My mom called me BooBear because, well, pain. I called myself the bear as soon as I gained the weight I lost doing drugs back. I have tattoos of me being the bear on me.

When I was today years old it occurred to me that the Bear is who I am. I am not the abused kid hiding from the social workers at Hart St. Elementary. I am not the heroin addict that sat under the bridge on Scio and died. I am not anything other than what I have been the entire time.

The Bear.

JameyBear. Your friend, your pal, the guy who would give you the skin off his body if you wanted it and batted your eyes pretty enough.

BrucleBear. I won’t get closer to having a daughter than her if you hurt her I will kill you in ways you don’t even have words to describe.

UncleBear. Advice is given for free with as much shoulder crying time as you need. I am told I give adequate hugs and no one can lift you up and spin you as I can. Bet on that.

MurderBear. Maybe don’t say anything bout my kids or my Tribe and you and I will never have to meet.

CreepyBear. I mean, we all have a side of ourselves that revels in things that perhaps it shouldn’t. I just happened to have it tattooed on me.

HippieBear. It doesn’t matter if it is crystals to align your soul or the stars to tell your future, I am willing to help you find a path to walk on if you want to find it.

HER Bear. Never doubt it, accept it. Move along and smile.

Infinite varieties. Infinite personas. All of them Mine, all of them Yours. All of them the one thing I have been looking for the entire time.

So all of these years as I was sitting there hoping to become a poet people would notice, an author that people would read, a storyteller people would follow, a father people would envy, a friend people wanted, a human being that does good for the sake of doing good, I was already those things, I just happened to call it the Bear.

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