Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pitching a Tent in the Gutter

Arriving off the Greyhound from Cincinnati on April 6th 1992, I had stars in my eyes. I had no real choice. I had to get out of town. In the days prior to my departure, a person had mistakenly believed that I had stolen $2,240 from their sock while they were passed out in my apartment on Cisco. Cisco is a cheap wine in the same vein as Thunderbird or Mad Dog 20/20. it was also known as "liquid crack". This person had owed that money to a loan shark. When they awoke to find that their money was gone, they held me hostage with a pair of rusty scissors. They told me "Bitch, I am not going to kill you. I am going to put your eyes out so you can live the rest of your life like that." I learned a valuable lesson that day. I did not take their money nor did I steal things from people in my career as an addict. By the time the morning rolled around, he quickly realized I was not the person. It had been another person who had been sleeping in my old apartment. When he finally decided to let me go, I formulated a plan. I had my college tuition check refunded to me. I was on the greyhound with $900 and no plan.

I had two junkie choices of either New York or San Francisco. These were the only places I was SURE I could get heroin in either place. I had been to New York City in 1988. We slept in our car at Tompkins Square Park. We drank blackberry flavored brandy to say warm. This was the first time I saw a dead person (or thought was dead) on the street. His body was blocking my path. I asked my friend "what do I do?" He said "This is New York, step over him". It was in the 30s at night. I was freezing cold. We never found heroin or pills. We got loaded on something or another but it was not the place for me. I had it in my mind I would try my hand at San Francisco.

I was staying with a friend briefly but he was going to the University of San Francisco. He agreed to let me stay in his dorm. I must heartily apologize to him in this public forum. I was a train wreck from day one. I needed to get out in the mix. Where can I get some drugs? Where could I find  someone? They would be able to hook me up with what I needed if i could only find them. I also had a few friends that had moved to the city. I  knew if I could find Slick, I would be in good shape. That money was burning a hole through my pocket.

Up until this point in my life, I used drugs but I never had easy access to them. I also was the kind of person that had a job. I either went to school or worked or both. My parents did help me out but most of vices were funded by my own labor. San Francisco would become a total departure from everything I knew of life. No job, no place to live, drugs everywhere. When I was a teenager, my friend and I used to listen to the band Fang. They used to sing songs about the Tenderloin, being a junkie, being completely free and not giving a fuck. The cab driver told me on the way from the Greyhound station : "This is the Tenderloin. Do NOT come here." That moment will always be cemented in my memory. That was the day when I found everything I wanted in one place. My life changed when I set foot on the bricks of the Civic Center. I had a return trip ticket but I never came back. My life was here.

I need directions. "Can you tell me which bus will take me downtown? I need the Tenderloin..."


To be continued...

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