Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Woman Alone is in Bad Company

To understand the depths of human depravity, a person certainly must have lived there.

I had an uphill battle from the start. I was an addict. I was a woman. I was homeless. I was alone. When I came to San Francisco, the first thing that struck me was the fact that there were so many homeless drug users here. I had lived in many other cities across the South and Midwest. In all those places, I had known users and hard core alcoholics. None of them were what I would describe as homeless. They found places to stay each night.

There was a time when I was complete broke in Louisville Kentucky. I had left everything to get away from  my abusive boyfriend. People would let me stay with them- a night here and there. No one even considered letting me leave their house with absolutely NO place to go. If they did, I just didn't know it. There was always a back room, a couch, a closed in porch. When I got too drunk, there was a few times strange men brought me home. I would wake up in strange t-shirts and shorts. They would be smiling, asking me if I needed breakfast. They all declared I was "too drunk"  last night and they didn't want to "take advantage" of me. That would soon change.

San Francisco was a different place. I was struck by the volume of people sleeping in full view of the public. I had seen crackhouse, squats, even 8 people crammed in a van. I had never seen encampments of people at the corner of every block. I had never seen a public park full of urban campers. At first, the idea of complete freedom was exciting to me. After a few years, it became more and more tiring.

One day, I was laying outside on the concrete. I remember it was a hot day for the city. I was laying on a towel on the concrete. I was sleeping in an alley by a corner store. It was right of a major street. My head was facing the walkway. I had been up too many days. I was the kind of tired where it made it impossible to keep my eyes open. I hated sleeping at night because I had to worry about someone raping me. It didn't matter if you were male or female as I had known friends of both gender to get assaulted. It just happened more to women. I had no ID so I couldn't get a hotel, stay in a shelter, or get any kind of assistance. I was a non entity, using one of my mug shot print out to prove my identity.

I had this mysterious thing happen. It shouldn't have been a mystery but it was. I started bleeding. I was bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. Bleeding for days. I had these yellow shorts on. They were kind of long. They almost came down to my knees. I bled all over my shorts, my underwear. I sat in nearly the same spot for a few days. I was so exhausted, I only got up to go to the store or go to the bathroom. Outside of course. Because that was where I was living at the time.

I was one of those nasty people you pass by where you can't tell if they shit one themselves or what the fuck is wrong. I didn't know myself. I didn't know if I had a miscarriage or gotten my period. It had been so long, I had totally forgotten about the functions of my body. The strangest part was no one thought to ask me what was wrong. No one asked me if I needed help. No one called an ambulance, No one covered me in a blanket. In reality, no one fucking cared. I walked around and sat around in two days covered in blood. I could not function for two days.

After sitting in my bloody shorts, by third morning I finally decided to take care of myself. The problem seemed so overwhelming. Where can I get clothes? Where can I change? How can I wash myself? I had nothing. None of these things. No money either. People want to help a cute young woman, one who is attractive. They don't want to approach one covered in blood. They only want to point at me and laugh. Look at that chick, she is so fucked up.

I went to the gas station. I walked around a 1/4 of a mile there. I knew the guy that worked at night would help me. He treated me like a human being. He had a low paying job and dealt with assholes all day. I think I made him sad. He saw his sister in me. Never did anyone ever imagine one day I would become a mother.

People asked me how I could use heroin all those years. At some points, using heroin was the least of my problems. Worrying about getting my throat cut was at the top, Getting raped was in the middle. Heroin provided a brief reprieve from the reality of my situation, I would think, yet it was the root cause of my condition.

I write this post to say a woman alone on the street is in bad company. It is amazing that I survived.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Not my usual post

Sometimes I get lonely.
I get very depressed.
Some weekends, I just want to sleep.
I am afraid to talk to people I don't know.
I avoid going places because of anxiety.
My heart races with fears of the future.
I have thought about killing myself more than once.
I binge on food until I feel sick.
I look at porn and feel disgusted with myself.
I wear loose clothes because I hate to see my rolls of fat.
I look at my phone so you won't talk to me.
I am afraid to get close to anyone. I am afraid they might leave me.

I am saying all this to say I am human.

Recovery did not fix all my feelings. I have many good days. I have fucked up days as well. My life is far from perfect. I go through a full range of emotions. I just want to let you know that feeling these things are normal. You are not alone.

I am like my cats. 

Joy can be so simple - 
like a nap in the sun. 

Find your joy today. 
You deserve it. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Chester - the sickness of the streets

The story of Chester is a complicated one. It started soon after my arrival. After a month of bouncing around San Francisco, it was not long before I ran out of money. That $900 lasted a total of three weeks with multiple people sponging off of my cash. I had to learn the ropes of survival but I was still a little naive as to the ways and means of the street life. I wasn’t ready to engage in survival sex and/or prostitution, so I learned the ways of pan handling and scoring things by engaging people on the street. People are surprisingly generous to younger fresh faced travelers, especially in the traditionally gay areas of the Castro and Polk Gulch. Castro Street begging was very competitive. Therefore, it was generally left to cute young men who were willing to flirt with passersby. The Polk Gulch area was a more eclectic area of alternative types, punks, queers, trannys, homeless people and junkies. This was where I belonged and this was where I stayed for many years.

The street was accepting of the wayward youth. Many came here to escape prejudice in their homes as young queer youth. Others were in search of a quick high, but the streets of the lower Tenderloin area from Geary to Market were full of opportunistic criminals that would rape, rob or pimp the faint of heart. The Polk Gulch area was the traditional ho stroll for men, the start of the ho stroll for women, and a high density drug area where Larkin Street Youth Services attempted to save the lives of the willing street urchins in search of some rest.

I had hooked up with some other Cincinnati exiles in San Francisco. They were beautiful young boys who made a killing pan handling in the Castro. They were slumming it by hanging out with me in the Gulch. Young people are safer in packs and I was smart enough to want to be safe. I met Chester one night on the sidewalk between Sutter and Bush. I was with a group of kids and he struck up a conversation with us.

 I had the feeling he really was not interested in me. According to the story he had told us over coffee, he had been a queer youth on the streets of San Francisco. He had scraped together the money to get a place while finishing high school.

“Hey would you all be interested in being interviewed for an article about homeless kids for the school newspaper?” he asked. He talking to me but looking at my friends.

 The offer of a free meal was always enticing.
We all agreed- "yes".

 He had his friend with him, a female, which also put us at ease. The whole thing seemed easy enough and a pleasant distraction from the street. That was the start of a relationship of mutual usury and deception.

Chester was small, almost tiny in a way that would have made you describe him as nearly delicate. He had a very small frame. He could not have been more than 5’8” or 5’9”. He had a smooth round face and tiny wrists. I imagined it must have been tough for someone so small to make it on the streets. He would have certainly struck the interest of perverts looking for a particularly young looking man. He invited me and my friend to spend the night at his place in Noe Valley. There was a kindness about this person. Plus, I was not alone. I felt as if he could somehow understand me.It gets so cold at night. Many nights, I stayed outside. Other nights, I would go into abandoned buildings known as squats. Many such buildings were around the city, still damaged from the Loma Prieta earthquake. Chester was an unassuming person that seemed harmless to me.

Noe Valley, where Chester lived, is now one of the richest areas of San Francisco. It is the area where modern families with new wealth relocate to be a part of a vibrant neighborhood. In 1992, however, Noe Valley was full of working families, affordable apartments, and junkies. Chester had a tiny studio apartment above a Thai restaurant on 24Th and Castro that he got for $450 a month. The apartment smelled vaguely of peanut sauce. His small back porch overlooked the back of an elementary school yard. Many afternoons, I would sit in his darkened closet praying to be able to sleep, while children were busy playing outside.
The apartment would be part home, part torture chamber. Chester invited me to stay the next night, too. It was clear he was also very lonely. As a nineteen year old, he was older than most of the
other students. He was one of the only ones that had to work to provide for their needs. He was offering "therapeutic massage" in the Bay Area Reporter, a gay magazine, but most men wanted sex. He
had returned home from a summer abroad teaching English in Thailand. He was depressed about his job in sex work with no real career on the horizon. He also had trouble saving because of his speed binges, Although he was proud of the fact that he always paid his bills. He was the first person I ever knew who could use speed for a few days and stop because he had to work. It was clear that he needed more
than a subject for an article. He wanted a friend. I was his confidant. And later, he wanted me to be his drug connection. Sex for money frequently ends in drugs and drugs can some times help earn money for sex. He used his money from tricks to pick up boys off the street.

Chester was very generous with his drugs and money. This was the kind of friend I needed as a new person to the city. Especially one that had zero interest in fucking me.  But frequently, I would fall out of favor and he would ask for his key back. One weekend he would talk to me about his background as a foster youth that had been molested by his care giver. He needed me. He needed me to listen- to believe him- he told me. But our relationship would quickly turn with my moods. Other weekends, I would get too
crazy for him. Me and three of my friends spent nearly a whole month getting high in his place. When the boys ran out, I got kicked out. Or maybe I left. I got kicked out so many times.

In the drug world, a person who gives you a steady supply of drugs and money is called a mark. A mark is a person who believes in you and continues to give you money despite all evidence or instincts. I would not say that Chester was a mark at this point. I was not that sophisticated at just a few months in the city. He provided me drugs and I provided him with some sort of stability as a regular friend. I think to the building, I was seen as his bipolar girlfriend. I am sure it must have seemed as if we were having the types of quarrels that occur between lovers. We would have some sort of disagreement, but he would always take me back.

Chester had a good heart, or so I thought at the time. He was interested in finding a way to help those who had been sexually abused as he had been. There was a sick world we lived in, the sick world of drugs. So many of the children I met were on the streets as teenagers who left unsafe homes. These seemed to be the people who Chester wanted to bring to his place. The youngest and the most vulnerable youth. I was not around those days. He did that outreaching when I was out on my speed runs.

My speed habit lost to my heroin habit for a few months. I went off to the side of a mountain in Colorado for the twentieth anniversary of the Rainbow Gathering. Old hippies and burnouts met in the forest. I went there, seeking a solution for my drug habit. I spent three weeks living in the dirt. When I came home, Chester was waiting. I had to take two full baths in his huge claw foot tub just to get the dirt off of me. I was not clean, in any way shape or form.The call of the drugs was just too strong at that time. He was willing to pay and I was willing to score. Our love affair was on again.

In all my relationships, I began to question at some point when was this going to end. Where is this going? I had some little shred of morals left. I got tired of feeling like I was somehow using this person. He assured me he needed me. I heard that Chester would go to Polk Street looking for me. He would take home other people that were not so kind, these young boys and hustlers. Sometimes they would rip  him, sometimes they Unfortunately, he was always attracted to helping street kids. Especially boys. There was something he saw in them. I started hearing whispers about videos and pictures. Things I didn't understand.

 As I became more jaded, more hardened to the world, the picture became in focus. What was he doing with these boys. Why were they always taking his money. No one is as charitable as he made it seem to me. Spending time with the queens at The Ambassador Hotel taught me that things in the drug world are half fantasy and half nightmare. I never argued with Chester. Our disagreements were in hushed tones.

 “I don’t think you are who you say you are" I told him one night.
He cut me off "You are high Tracey."
Yes," I told him "I am high. And I don't think you are who you say you are."
His baby face turned red. He looked like an angry man.
"What do you mean Tracey?!"
I sat up and told him again "I just don't think you are who you say you are- just a feeling I have."

He started spinning out of control. Why was I so fucking ungrateful all the time blah blah blah. The same old tired fucking argument. Get out, he told me for the zillionth time.

"Hey bitch" I told him " money can’t buy everything."
 Snap! Fuck. Let me get out of here. Let me get the FUCK out of here.

I went home to detox at my parents house in Ohio. He called me every day. 
His tone got more urgent- “When are you coming back?”  he asked me.
"I don't know." I told him.
"My mother really wants me to stay here. She wants me to take a break. I told her everything."
He told me "I really want you to come back. Now."

He was so upset that we had fought before I left San Francisco. He called me from an airplane. Calls were close to two dollars a minute. He was on his way somewhere but was sweet enough to take the time to check on me. He wanted me to KNOW he NEEDED me to come back.

“I’m not sure. “ I said “ I am trying to work things out here. Right now, I don’t really have a plan.”

I was confused. I was not ready to stop using drugs. The bed there was so comfortable. I was JUST over my detox. I felt halfway safe. My father was not around. He was working in a coal mine doing some type of engineering, so that sinking feeling of hatred was not present. I was at a crossroads. This was my last chance not to plunge head first into my addiction. Chester needed me.

I returned to the Bay Area after weathering an HIV scare after contracting thrush, an opportunistic infection. I did not have AIDS. My parents were willing to take me back. All of these were good things. I will just stay out here for a few weeks. I had an open-ended plane ticket. I had clean clothes.

Unfortunate,y the drugs won. When I returned to SF, Nothing had changed. More drama. More drugs.

I started hearing more  rumors about speed fueled pornos. Young hustlers would approach me, with freshly minted dollars filling up their pockets. “I heard about the way you treated Chester”, one had me cornered on the dope track. They just did not know about Chester. Just wait, I thought. Just wait until the mood changes and this person puts you out again on the street. The reality was there was no replacing me. I had something Chester needed that one other young punk could provide. I provided some front of normalcy. I was the crazy girlfriend. I was the drama queen. I was his excuse and his cover. Everything was starting to make sense.

I walked the streets of San Francisco. I heard whispers in the wind, more like rumors about unspeakable suspicions.  I saw many things a person should not see in a lifetime. The rapes, the beatings, my own life was becoming a fucking horror show. Many things I ignored because they some how benefited me. Other things, I cast aside as part of my own denial process. My life was slowly crumbling around me. I was not in denial anymore.

Things began to change rapidly between Chester and me. As my life was spiraling out of control, I had no time to deal with anyone else’s problems. Chester and I were no longer sparring partners in a drug love triangle. And he hated it. The more I pulled away, the more desperate he became to try to shore up my support. He told me he was not sleeping, he had so many things on his mind. Speed can do that, but he assured me it was not the speed. He had a new boyfriend. Some freshly scrubbed new love; much too innocent for our dirty business. He had started buying pills off the street but he wanted ME to get them. I knew there was a catch. No one likes me that much. He had wanted me to cop him pills. Fifty at a time to save a trip to the hotel I had used for my new residence.  It was not the apartment in Noe Valley. I no longer wanted to go there. I felt dirty, it felt dirty there. I wanted to sink into my own familiar misery. I had one rule in my addiction no kids. I do not fuck with newbies to the drug game. I would rip off a senior citizen but do not bring a high schooler to me expecting me to do any sort of transaction in front of them. I did not want blood on my hands.

“Do not bring him here, Chester.” I insisted on the phone “Do not bring that fucking kid to my place.”

Chester assured me his parents were okay with this relationship. The boy was going off to college in the fall. The parents knew that he was gay. They were accepting of their relationship. They would never be accepting of this, even a person like me could see this picture. Chester was just stopping by for his medicine to help him sleep. He would give me hundreds of dollars at a time to get his pills. I would pocket a hundred dollars for myself. I would get the pills for much less that what I charged him and take my end ; a fortune for a few minutes work. I would leave them in my place and shuffle off to pill corner. When I handed him the pills, he would rush off. No fucking newcomers to this life. Ever.

I was over the whole arrangement. It was one thing to be a junkie; it was another thing to be a friend to this man. I had an uneasy feeling. It was nothing but a feeling. He was feeling it, too. He was very uneasy with our relationship. He was very uneasy with my feelings. I was rambling at this point. I was staying up for days and weeks at a time on speed. I was down to a shadow. I had a criminal record by this point. A few arrests related to prostitution. No one would believe my feelings, my ramblings. It all came to a head in a conversation with him.  I was fucked up, yes. But I could no longer deny the evidence that was right in front of my face.

“What if I went to the police Chester?" I confronted him " There is something about you that does not add up.”
“Why do you have two passports?" I yelled.
 I was on a roll now. "I know you went to high school here but what happened before then?"
"Where is all this money coming from" I pointed to my stack off cash  "and did you see a plastic surgeon?”
"You are rambling" he told me. "Another crazy Tracey delusion!"
"You think the police would believe you.." he hissed at me.
"You are fucking insane!" he told me s he slammed my door.

The last time I saw Chester, he asked me to get him more pills than usual. Would I be willing to see him? 
No motherfucker, I will get you the pills. Four hundred dollars. That was a hundred pills; the whole pill corner emptied their supply.

I was sitting in front of the youth center when I got an unexpected apology. I was too old now to go inside. I sat outside to rest outside the Hospitality House youth services. This place, strangely enough, was a few buildings from where I would live in the first four years of my recovery. As I rested, one of the hustlers asked me if I had heard about Chester. Apparently, he had tried to kill himself. He had taken a bunch of pills and was in the hospital.

"Why are you apologizing to me?" I asked.
"You were right," he told me.
"Right about what?" I asked.
He shook his head "you were so fucking right."
This piqued my curosity "About what?!!"

My mouth hung open as he told me the story. Chester had tried to kill himself. He had taken a handful of pills, this I knew. Chester was in a coma, in the hospital surrounded by all his street friends when an older woman appeared.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.
They had explained their relationship to Chester.
"He isn't 20 years old," the woman told them.
"I am his mother." She is explained. "he is a 33 year old convicted pedophile. Now get the fuck out of here!"

It all made sense now to me.
The teaching English in Thailand
The two passports
The living behind an elementary school

What did not make sense? How the fuck did he end up going back to high school? Jesus fucking CHRIST this world is fucked. I need a hit- now. My hustler friend agreed. Heroin- stat.

No one ever believed me back then. I hardly believe this story myself but it is true. Chester survived. He was brain damaged from what I understand. I can't say I feel sorry for him. I wish Chester was the only person I met like this in my year on the street. He was just one in a long series of them. People wondered why I liked to use alone. Because you can never truly trust anyone in the world. You never know if secretly, they are another Chester. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

"Are you done yet?" he asks.

I attempt to ignore this person. Why do people find it necessary to approach a random stranger in the park. I hate being a woman alone in this world. He can't stop me from completing my business. I am searching through my backpack for some dope I am sure I lost a few days ago. I tried to shove it in a hole I cut near the zipper. Now, it has disappeared. More than likely, it disappeared in my arm but it doesn't hurt to look. Today is going to be an awesome day. I am well, for once. It is nice to get off that bag chase. I even brought some snacks along with me when I left my room this morning. I got some vanilla wafers I plan to dump into my pint of milk. My teeth hurt from the sugar but I don't mind. 

The man moves even closer to me. "I said," he says more forcefully "are you done yet?!"

I am not sure why this person finds it necessary to single me out. This is a public space. I have just as much right to be here as anyone else. Not sure what is going on today but the park is empty. I got a space all to myself in the middle of the lawn. I feel almost...normal. I left my rigs, my cooker, and my tie back at the room. I am enjoying a chance to get away from the Tenderloin for a little while before I have to plan my next move. I even brought the sheet off my bed. I spread it out carefully on the grass like I was having a real picnic. I took my shoes off, my hoodie. My track marks look faded when I let them get a little bit of sun.  

The man is not leaving. "Am I done with what?!" I ask him.

 I truly am confused by his behavior. He isn't dressed for a day at the park, either He has on a light blue button up shirt with khaki slacks and dress shoes. He is clean shaven, well groomed. He reminds me of the kind of person that feels superior to me yet snorts a little bit of coke on the weekends. He is the type that drinks and drives yet is bothered by me sitting alone in the middle of the park. 

He leans down. I assume he is trying to intimidate me. 
He asks me in a low voice "Are you done shooting up or whatever the fuck you are doing here? I got my kid over there...." He points to a small group of women and children. 
" Can't you get the fuck out of here? We  re about to have an Easter Egg Hunt!"

Now I get it. He has promised his girl and his kid that they are going to have an Easter Egg Hunt here. The junkie in the middle of the lawn is fucking up the photo opportunities. This is probably his girlfriend and her kids. The probably of him getting laid later increases exponentially with her having the perfect Easter Experience.

My mind goes into junkie overdrive. "Well" I tell him "this is a public place. Give me a reason to leave."

He exhales loudly as he looks over at the little family that is waiting. He has to be the big man here. 
He reaches in his pocket and pulls out his stash, neatly arranged in a money clip. Begrudgingly,  he pulls out a twenty dollar bill and throws it at my face. He does this like a trick does when he thinks you gave a bad performance. This isn't his first time.

I have no choice now but to leave. I wish I wasn't the type of person to take his money. More than that, I wish I wasn't the type of person to ask for it. I am a junkie. I need to hide in the shadows. I need to be invisible. In the back of my throat, I hear all the things I want to say. I want to tell him fuck you. I want to tell him he is wrong about me. I want to assure him I will take this money for some thing productive like food or the movies. Instead, I feel my stomach start to churn. Before my mind can even react, my body starts packing up my shit to leave. It doesn't take long for my picnic to be over. Within five minutes, I am headed for the open air.

I walk past the church services. I walk past the children dresses in little suits and fancy dresses. I pass by candy that has fallen on the ground. Normally, I would not ignore such treasures. It is as if my feet are pulling me, pulling me along. I see myself in the reflection of a store. Who is this person in the mirror. I see a person that looks like me- a thinner, older, tired version of myself. I sold my Turkey for Thanksgiving, I sold my presents at Christmas. Why should today be any different? I sold myself short again. At least I will have some dope to keep me company. Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Scoring in Another City - Guest Post

One thing that is hard for me to do is to pinpoint when I consider I became an “addict”. I started smoking weed when I was thirteen years old and smoked pretty much every single day until I was in college. I don’t consider that an addiction because I could go without it easily. I started doing psychedelic drugs my senior year of high school (mushrooms, LSD, DMT etc.), but I also don’t consider that an addiction because that is something that nobody can do every single day. I started snorting cocaine and molly (ecstasy) my second year of college, I’m not sure if I would consider this an addiction. I was friends with a group of kids that would do it a lot and I saw a money-making opportunity. I started selling a lot of molly. And like most other things in my life this turned out too good to be true. As soon as I started buying ounces and making serious cash, I got arrested for a DWI and I had four grams left of molly on me and also a little DMT and some Adderall pills. This is probably the reason I started doing heroin, which I DEFINITELY consider an addiction. My brother has been an opiate addict for a long time. I was and still am in school for electrical engineering, but when I was going through this case everything seemed like it was going downhill. I know that many people would not guess I am an addict at first sight since I’m and Indian in engineering school which made it that much easier. My brother finished a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and masters in pharmaceutical engineering so why couldn’t I do it? I always hated what heroin had done to my brother and what he had become, but the way things were going I decided “fuck it”. That decision has changed my life in so many ways. Since my brother had already gone through his pill phase and was doing heroin at the time I skipped the whole pill phase. I only snorted dope twice before I decided that wasn’t what I was expecting from it and asked my brother to shoot me up. Before I knew it I was emptying my bank account, stealing, writing fake checks and forging signatures to get what I needed.

As a heroin addict I now know that it doesn’t really matter where I go or what city you throw me in, I’m going to find what I need. But at this time I had no idea how to get dope in another city or how to get it onto a plane. Thankfully my brother had experience in this area. My cousin was getting married in thesummer and my whole family was going. I am from Rochester, NY, so on the complete opposite side of the country. My brother said he had a doctor in San Francisco when he used to get prescribed Oxycontin, but we knew that wouldn’t last us even if we got it. We haven’t been to California in a long time so there was no way we were going to be sick at this wedding and in San Francisco. Luckily my brother recently got a loan from school about a week prior and there was about $1700 left of the $3000and me and him were flying separately from our parents. We bought about $150 of heroin and $100 of coke and thought that would last us the four day trip (HA!!). We diluted it all in an eye drop container and each did a shot the night before and the morning of our flight. My brother had done this before, but I hadn’t so I was scared out of my mind. Before I knew it we got through the TSA people and were boarding the flight to stop somewhere before SF (I forget which city)Oddly enough my high school economics teacher was sitting in the seat across the aisle from me. That didn’t stop me and my brother from taking turns going to the bathroom to shoot speedballs. By our next flight we were just shooting up in our seats with a blanket over us.

We met our uncle in California and by the next morning we were out of heroin and getting sick quickly. Google is a fantastic thing. We found out where to get dope, somewhere called the Tenderloin District. Even better news, our hotel wasn’t too far from the area at all. I also had no idea what to call heroin in this city, where I’m from it’s called “boy” and I didn’t want to confuse anyone. Our hotel was in a really nice area so it was hard to believe that in a few blocks I would literally see people smoking crack and shooting up in the street. I have never even seen anything like it in Rochester and I was going to bad areas every day. Me and my brother were starting to get sick so we told my uncle that we were going for a walk after thoroughly doing our research on where to go in this area. We just basically walked down California St and turned onto another street and kept walking until we decided it was a bad enough area to start asking around for heroin. The first time we tried I talked to some Asian kid that just made an obvious deal, either buying or selling. I made it clear that I want DOPE and he said “yea” and took us to some old Hispanic guy. We gave him the $40 and he gave us a bag, we walked away without looking at it. I got a glimpse and I told my brother it was crack, but he waited until we were out of the bad area to look at it. We had to try again, because there was no way we were shooting crack without having heroin by our side. The next time I just asked someone else and was successful in getting black tar. I had never had black tar, I was just used to the powder I get in NY. By the next day I had memorized exactly where to go and how to get dope.Our whole weekend basically consisted of going to the Tenderloin and back up to the nice area to attend the wedding functions. We were shooting up in the Fairmont hotel and a wedding that my aunt and uncle spent A LOT of money on.

It was clear that in the Tenderloin the people ran that area. Even if cops arrested people for drug possession or whatever that can’t even come close to stopping the drug use in this area. I even saw many abandoned cop cars that were spray painted on and broken up which was just a symbol of the fact that the people did what they want. The area was dirty and would be scary to most normal people. Most Indian kids had no business walking down these streets and would be scared shitless from these people. But me and my brother had our business here and knew that no drug dealer was going to deny our money. We must have seen at least three or four people smoking crack or shooting up every time we walked down there. I could see people hanging out with their group of friends or junkies, but I knew not to go to the junkies. Junkies will either rob you or get a cut of what you’re getting. Me and my brother have been those people before so we knew we had to find a dealer. One time we even conveniently saw a guy weighing out his tar on a scale outside. We had enough money to not be sick the entire weekend and even be high most of the time. But we had to juggle our drug-using time with our wedding-helping time.

Doing tar was so much more of a process. We had to melt it on a spoon which took forever, I’m used to not even heating the powder just throwing it in a cap and mixing with water. We had to melt so much that we basically had to use the full 10 units to get a good shot. The whole process took about ten to fifteen minutes to complete. The dope was so dark I could barely see my blood in the needle. Also the high didn’t come as quickly as the powder I get in NY, which is the reason we probably did too much and by the time I got back to the after party for the wedding I was really high. One of my second cousins (not related by blood and whom I’ve never known) even thought I was on coke (he’s done coke). And one of my cousins thought we kept leaving to smoke weed, but that was easy to dodge. I was able to even get a number and meet the guy a few times.

I still look back at that weekend and SF was definitely one of the craziest cities I have visited. I have never seen a city where there are really crazy places just a few blocks from the very nice places, its mind boggling. Drug addicts, pimps, hookers, you name it and I saw it. I’m used to being in a car when I go to pick up, but this time we were walking into the heart of the San Francisco ghetto. Heroin will make you do some wild things. I enjoyed the documentary BTH because I recognize some of those places even though I only went there a few times. I was there for a wedding, but there was a whole other side to our trip that our family didn’t know about. The drugs had made us incredible liars and master manipulators. But are those skills that will get us far in the future? Was I proud of the fact that I was able to get dope as soon as I wanted it? For a while I tried not to be, but I couldn’t help the feeling. I guess it’s just another way heroin reeled me in further, making me proud of something other people would consider repulsive. At the same time hating the fact that I would be sick without it and absolutely needed it when I was on the other side of the United States. Either way that’s a weekend I’ll never forget.

I’m glad I’m in a better condition now for the most part, I am on suboxone and it works wonders. Since I am in legal trouble and on probation, it’s an extremely dumb idea to continue to use. I’ve been an inch away from being thrown in jail by my PO, but I decided to get clean when my back was against the wall. I have never gone more than two days without taking anything so suboxone is the best choice at the moment. I don’t want to get cocky and think I can get off suboxone and end up using and in jail. I have a whole future ahead of me that include good jobs and a good degree if I can put these things in my past. My goals for the short term are to successfully and honestly complete rehab, and finish my degree. Ending the drug use is only the beginning, there is also ending the sick thinking and sick behaviors that go side and side with drug use. For now I’ve ended everything including the pot smoking and drinking. I do believe that pot has its benefits, but if it will lead me back to opiates then that is a risk I’m not willing to take.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happiness Where I Can Find It

I was out with my kids today. I was struck by the irony. It was an overcast morning. The fog was slowly being eaten up by the rays of sunshine forcing their will over the hill side. I was parked in my camping chair. I just got a new set of blue Coleman camping chairs specifically for this occasion. Mine has a cup holder on one side and room for a cold pack on the other. I got two of them so my husband could sit next to me. There were two other chairs. One looks like a little fox. The other one was a little brown bear. My two sons were sitting in them eating their Cheetos. I was imploring them not to get cheeto dust all over their baseball pants before we got to the game. They have white pants that won't be white for much longer. They spend more time playing in the dirt on the field then hitting the ball.

We were there this morning to watch my daughter play softball. This is the first year they actually keep score. Now is the time where they have winners and losers. She will start learning about competition. She will learn that the world is not perfect. Some people are better than you. Some people can achieve more. She hasn't learned yet about what it means to hate yourself, to hate parts of your body. She hasn't experienced much rejection or disappointment. She has two involved parents. For the moment, the world is at her fingertips. She believes everything is possible.

As I sat there in my Cadillac of lawn chairs, I felt completely at ease. I was one of the parents. I was one of the cool kids. I was there cheering my child on as she scored a run. Her dad and I beamed with pride that we had a winner on our hands, even if the game was small in the scheme of life. It was good to be on the winning side because next week might be an entirely different story. She was randomly assigned to this team. Life is a series of random choices that lead to success here. It could be entirely different.

When, it got hot outside, I took off my sweater. I had a tank top on. It is a long grey tank top, long enough to cover the rolls of fat I have gained in recovery. I have tattoos. I am sleeved to my elbows. I got the tattoos to cover up my track marks and scars. Does the world see me like I see myself? Am I Tracey the mom at this game? Or will I always carry the legacy of my years as a street junkie? I used to sit in broken down lawn chairs in alleyways. I used to fit in there. I was 100% comfortable sticking a needle in my arm in the middle of a busy street for anyone to see. Children passed by, getting directed away by their mothers while I wiped the dripping blood with alcohol pads and threw them on the ground. How many times had I sat with my black t-shirts cut off on a hot day picking at sores on my arms while others scurried off to be with their families? What damage did I do to others while I was busy killing myself?

People ask me all the time- what will I tell my children about drugs? My kids know I used to be a homeless drug addict. They don't really understand what it means but I don't keep these facts from them. They know I was in a movie about drugs. They know I spend many nights stuffing envelopes full of medical supplies to people who need help. I don't keep things from them. We discuss my scars. We have open conversations about my weight. I just want them to know that drug addicts are human beings worthy of compassion because that is how I truly feel.

The thing I realize the most in these sometimes awkward situations is that I need to have compassion for myself. I am not the sum of my past. I have gone willingly to many dark places. But that is not where I am today. I cannot forget the past nor can I change it. I accept myself, scars an all because I have no other choice. All my fears, all my anxiety comes from being afraid of this world of what we call "normal" people. The reality is I belong wherever I go because I am enough. I am beautiful, I am capable, I am lovable. So are you. Love yourself today even if you don't like your choices. You are not broken. You are one choice away from a whole different life.

I can relax in my deluxe camping chair because I have earned that comfy seat. I enjoy happiness where I can find it.