Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Last Day I Ever Used

When I say "the last day I ever used", I want to make it perfectly clear to readers. I am done using drugs. It was not easy but it was worth it.
February 26, 1998. It was the day that changed everything. 

The hotel Kinney was not for the faint at heart. It was not the kind of place you would visit unless you needed something. The place was a beacon for empty souls that filled that space with vices of all sorts. The rooms were dingy and dark. They smelled like old beer, crack, and stale cigarettes. The elevator was the type that had a gate that needed to be slowly slid into place before it would trudge to the next floor. The stairwell was always a center of illicit commerce. The hallways were the site of many a robbery and even an occasional rape. It was generally assumed using the bathroom in the sink in your room was safer than walking down the hall to the shared toilets. Someone was knocking on doors looking for matches or chore boy. 

I had given up my room facing the street. I was selling heroin. Lots of heroin. Too much fucking heroin. I liked the window in the front of the building because people could yell up when they needed something. My connection would throw me a free bag of coke if I came correct with all the money. $500 was my end for a Mexican half ounce. I say a Mexican half ounce because their bags are always short. 

Selling heroin as a woman was horribly dangerous. I had been robbed many times. A robbery and a rip off are totally different. I rarely got ripped off. I knew all these customers. They hated me. They hated that I was a junkie and sold heroĆ­n. Suddenly, I "thought i was better" they said. I didn't feel better. I was cooking up half grams and injecting them in the soles of my feet. I wasn't better, I was worse. I was carrying $500 in singles , fives, and a few twenties in a condom in my pussy. I prayed my snatch would go back to normal after shoving a bankroll the size of my fist in there twice a day. I would spent two hours on a bad day trying to get a hit. Covered in my blood, I would have holes all over me. I wondered if I drank water, would it all pour out like a junkie irrigation system. 

My boyfriend left me for his street "sister". She was a white girl with a gold tooth and a tattoo of two pimps ago on her neck. I had told him I really, really, really wanted to find a way to get clean. He didn't want any part of that. I know he had loved me but he loved that dope more. He had hounded me every day I was on methadone to try to get me using until eventually I quit the clinic on 60mg. He liked the hustle. He was not down for a doughnut and a coffee near the clinic as his only form of entertainment. 

I was alone in the world with stacks of money and drugs as my only companion. The ex did give me a gift though. He had got me started smoking crack in addition to all my other problems. Crack sneaks up on you like "I don't smoke crack- do you have some?"then it's "I don't smoke crack really but can you get me some?" Then finally "get me some fucking crack dawg." That was kind of it for me. I was starting to get heart palpitations from years of speed now cocaine use. After the incident where I did the hit of coke, shit in the sink, and threw it out the window because I was too paranoid to go out of the room to the bathroom- I was never the same. 

I don't remember all the details. I know I started out my day by mixing speed, heroin, and coke in the same syringe. I used to call it "the normal". It made me feel normal for a few minutes, almost how I feel now. I should have called it "the bi- polar" because ten minutes later, my moods went up and down. It was a ridiculous cycle of chasing a feeling that may not have ever existed- the feeling of being satisfied. I am not sure I have that feeling today. I am always moderately dissatisfied with one thing or another. I think I am simply hardwired that way. No drugs, no food, no sex, no love can cure this feeling. It is what it is.

The day ended in my room. It was the day before "check day", the day when recipients of government checks who have addictions purchase drugs in bulk. My connection had loaded me up for the business in the morning. I settled in with some crack, benzos, a 40z ounce, my heroin, and my best friend. He was passed out on my bed after a long speed run. Our friendship had survived many years of ups and downs but it did not survive when I got clean. We still hug each other and exchange "I love yous" but things can never be the same. As he put it "I can't hang out with you Tracey. because I am doing this and you are doing that." I understand it even when I didn't like it.

The police knocked on the door. I was so high, I could see something was wrong with the situation but it did not register with me. I had what what is known as a 1035 search and seizure. Once I opened the door, they had the right to search anything because of my probation. The dope was sitting out on the bed. I felt comfy in my drug induced haze. I told them instantly "the dope is mine". so they would let me friend go. I had a suitcase packed in my closet in case I got arrested. I wanted to discharge into some fresh threads not jane doe clothes. As They clicked on the handcuffs, I decided to leave everything behind. I left in a jacket and some pajamas. Bye room. Bye clothes. Bye addiction. I left all that shit there for the crackheads to pick through. I was done. Peace. 

I didn't cry. I was done crying. I didn't beg to be let go. I was done with that life. I knew the pain I would face detoxing on a hard floor in a jail cell. I was ready to give it a go. I had kicked heroin 10 times. I had done 2 methadone treatment programs. I had 1 chance left. I was going to take it. That was 17 years ago ago. Tomorrow, unless the needle slips and falls in my arm,  I will have 17 years clean. Thank you for listening.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Blood

Blood. I'm covered in blood. Where did all this blood come from? Crusted old blood. I wish I had some toothpicks to prop my eyes open. 

How many klonopin did I take? 2? 4? And a phenergan too? Ugh. Benzos are like magic. You take one then the rest disappear. One day I had taken a handful of klonopin after my mediocre shot of heroin. Apparently, I was walking against a parking meter. I thought I was still walking up the street. I know this because the paramedics stopped me. They parked next to me. They watched me for awhile. I learned that evening that they can NOT narcan you if you are standing aka ambulatory even if you are walking into a parking meter. I supposed they could have taken me to the psych ward. Sometimes they do if you are weaving in and out of traffic. I got hit by a car once but I was dopesick that day. I wasn't trying to kill myself or get pills at the hospital. They guy almost backed over my head to get away in his Mercedes. It was a hit and run. Fuck, I have bad luck.

I drifted back to sleep. THE BLOOD!!!! Fuck, get it together Tracey. There is crusted blood all down my arm. Or is it chocolate? I have fallen asleep with a thing of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup by my face. I also passed out on top of a pint of coffee ice cream. I lick the stain. Not chocolate. It has that salty taste like tears or sweat mixed with pennies. There is blood caked on my arm, on the sleeve of my shirt. Then I feel something poking my skin. I reach down between my leg and my arm. What the fuck? A bent syringe with blood and dope in there. Jesus fucking Christ. What happened last night?

I remember when I was young. I used to drink with my friends. I would do all kinds of stupid shit like flash my tits to strangers on the highway or make out with some hot guy I barely knew. Or maybe even an ugly one with a great personality. My life seemed EPIC, like a fucking adventure. I would have a few beers with my friends. We would play cards or videogames. Boys would light their farts on fire. Someone would end up passing out before midnight. I had friends then. There was always someone who would hold my hair to the side if I started puking. People cared about me then.  People gave a shit if I got home at night. People called me the next day to replay the events of the prior evening. Things were FUN. I had fun back then. Now, I wake up alone. 

I can piece together my night through evidence. I find an empty bottle of pills. Some were mine. I had a script for a few pain killers from when I got my abscess drained. There was some other things in there as well. It had been the pharmacological version of skittles in the bottle. I guess I had tasted the rainbow. I see I have pants on. My feet are still in the right location. Nothing is broken. Check, check, check. 

I hear a disembodied voice "mom!...mommy!!!!" I jump to sitting. Am I hallucinating? No. 

On the floor, I see a body curled up under a blanket. This just keeps getting better and better. I am afraid to get off the bed to investigate when I come to the conclusion I have NO fucking idea where I am. I mean I know I am in San Francisco (I think). 

This is not my room. 
This is not my bed. 
These are not my clothes. 

I need some answers. 

I creep over to see who is sleeping on the floor. I am not sure. It is a man. I can tell from some whiskers. They have sparkly blue eye shadow and mascara running down the corners of their eyes. They are sunburnt in multiple layers around their face with just a hint of lipgloss streaming from their mouth to their chin. For whatever reason, I find this comforting. Misery loves company. I am not alone. Me and this bitch are in it to win it. 

I curl up next to them. No, I'm not mommy but I know when someone doesn't want to be alone. There will be plenty of time to talk later. For now, I just want to sleep. 

I would rather wake up like this. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I'm Back

Just got back from a mini vacation. My recovery anniversary is next week. This always puts me in a strange mood. I was grateful to get away with my family. Here are a few pictures. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I wish I was like you, easily amused.

I didn't want to be born a heroin addict. I wasn't born this way. I created this monster. My love/hate relationship was forged somewhere at the intersection of depression and poor choices. It is as if my relationship with the drug is inextricable from my ability to function. Once that feeling enters the body, it is as if no other joy ever existed.

"Quit puking out my fucking window" I tell him. What kind of fucking asshole pukes out your window when there is a bathroom five feet away.

He reaches out to me. "Hand me some water " he commands me. I am not getting this dude anything. I need to get him out of my place. I kick his leg instead.

"Get your shit together dude" I tell him. "You need to get the fuck out of my place."

This is fucking bullshit. I am not taking care of a god damned amateur. I don't even see how this is humanly possible. He got one half gram to split between three of us. I made up the shots so of course, I gave myself the most. That goes without saying. Plus, I bought myself a little something with the extra money. I don't middleman or middle woman or whatever for free. I am taking all the risk. For his $60, I got a gram. I dipped off into the gas station, broke it in half, wrapped it back up, and burnt the plastic seal on his piece. I know he won't know the difference. This isn't my first time at this rodeo.

 The Mexican dealers won't sell to him. He walks by and they scream "Police" in Spanish. His loss is my gain. I have no idea why he would trust me anyway. I fucking hate him. I hate the fact that he can come into my 'hood and leave to return to the burbs without a scratch on him. He is like the virgin snow that the neighborhood dogs have not pissed on- not yet.

"Are you done yet, Steve?" Even his name irritates me. Steve. I can picture him sitting at his desk at work. "Hello, this is Steve. Yes of course I can help you with that Mrs. Smith. First, let me tell you about our great new product." DIE, DIE, FUCKING DIE.

I kick his leg again. "Get out of my window Steve."

He falls back into my chair. "No one cares Tracey "  he explains to me. "This is the Tenderloin, right?!"

He pulls out his cigarettes and lights it without even asking me. I don't smoke. He exhales into my face. Steve is sweating now. He unbuttons the top few buttons of his shirt and attempts to make himself comfortable. His head half hits his chest before he announces "I need to hang out here for a little while. Just until I wake uuppppppppppp." His words trail off.

I grab his cigarette before he burns up my floor. I am steaming now. He tips me $5 for clean rigs, a place to use, and copping for him. Plus, if I didn't pinch, he generously provides me 20 units AFTER I hit him. I have to sit there after he is done to make sure he doesn't overdose. Then , he orders me around for the next twp hours until he feels like he is in good enough shape to go home. In that two hours, he will spend his time mocking my life choices, where I live, and tell me extensively how I need to quit using heroin. Back in suburbia, his girlfriend is making scones from scratch. She probably can't wait for him to come home so they can have fabulous sex on the shag carpet underneath a portrait of Jesus at the last supper.

Steve talks endless shit about me. I know this because bad news travels fast. The neighborhood junkies see me go tot the corner store with Steve. They call him my "mark". In a sense, Steve gets a ghetto pass because he is under my protection of sorts. Whatever credibility he has is based solely on the fact that everyone knows I work him for my fix and they respect that. They respect ME. There is a sense of honor among thieves to a certain degree. You don't have to like me to admire my hustle.

But then Steve went and did the unthinkable. There is a line you don't cross. The line is variable. It shifts back and forth depending on the day but it is still there. Even the most dedicated dope fiend has some ethical code that is unknown to everyone except themselves. I will do this but I won't do that thing. Steve crossed a line that day. He liked to get high and analyze me because he felt he could. It was a thing. He liked to hang out with me because he felt I was a few levels lower than him. He didn't have a problem because he wasn't like me. I was his living, breathing line in the sand. As long as he wasn't like me, he would be okay.

"What do you think your mom thinks about all this Tracey?" he asked me as he perked up in his chair. "What do you think your mother thinks about the fact that she works hard to send you money and you stick it up your arm? I guess she doesn't really love you though. If it was me, my mother would be right here. She would be pulling me out of here and into rehab so fast it would make my head spin. I guess your mom doesn't really give a shit about you huh, Trace?" He smiled at me. A smug I AM SO MUCH better that you smile.

He lit another cigarette with one hand and stuck his hand down his pants to scratch his balls with the other. He dug in there so deeply he must have struck blood. I hated fucking Steve. He just didn't know how much.

A few hours later I walked Steve out on my way to the corner store. He thought I was walking with him. I really was not. I no longer could stand his company. I headed towards the store with my five bucks to get a cinnamon roll when one of the local home bums stopped me.

"You got any change darlin'?" he asked me.

I reached into my pocket and handed him the five dollars. "This is my last five dollars man. I am going to give this to you now. But if you see that dude, the one walking down the street there", I pointed at Steve " He owes me $50. He won't pay me. If you see him again, collect it for me man. I'm done fucking with that dude."

He nodded and smiled as he headed off to get his bottle of poison.

The next time I saw Steve, he had a black eye and some empty pockets. He wanted me to "spare" him some dope. Apparently, some dudes had robbed him for NO REASON Steve declared in his superior tone.

"This is the Tenderloin, right?!" I told him. I couldn't help him. I couldn't help myself, I told him. I never heard from Steve again. I suppose he got ripped off a few more times before he gave up on people like me. He started going to church or one of those fancy rehabs. I sat in the same chair he had sat in, drinking my water, and staring out the window wishing I had his $50. There was one thing I knew for sure- my mother fucking loves me. No one, no douchebag like Steve, was ever going to fucking talk her to me again. There are some things you just don't do, bro. Bye Bye Steve. On to the next one.

This is a composite of two different incidents. The debt was $50 but I actually paid the home bum in heroin and the dude got all strung out later. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The trick

As I listen to the wind chimes rattle from the neighboring apartment, I know what I need to do. A feeling of dread comes over me. I am warm under my sleeping bag in the middle of his couch as the rain drips off the bars on the window. I am not sure how much longer my friend will let me stay here. A day more? Two? When he finds some new boy toy, I am back on the streets. 

 It is nice to be in a place where I can take a bath. He has one of those claw foot bath tubs. The water gets so hot the steam will fill up the entire room. The last time I stayed here, I had been up for four days on speed. I pulled my dirty ass into the bathtub, trying to be gentle with the hands I had cut up while I was tweaking through piles of stuff outside the goodwill looking for shiny treasures. I was so tired, I slipped under the still water a few times. I woke up gasping for air without the strength to pull myself out. This went on over and over until the water got cold and shocked me awake again. 

I don't need heroin today. I want it though. I am dreaming about it like you dream about a lover licking chocolate off your stomach before they fuck you and make you breakfast. I feel like an empty shell without opiates. I would like tp talk to someone but the words are caught in my throat. I am slowly suffocating on my fears. I had spent the last few days of this week on a speed run to cleanse myself of the last of the opiates in my body. My friend won't let me stay here if I am on heroin. Meth is okay to him but heroin is a big no no. Fucking hypocrite. He just wants me on speed so I will cop for him. Then he uses the drugs to lure in the young men. They say the difference between a straight man and a gay one is a half gram. He frequently tests this theory. 

I am freshly scrubbed like new money. I need to find my way back to the tenderloin until he gets off work. He doesn't like me here when he goes out. I am not sure if he is afraid I will steal something or if he simply resents the fact I don't work. Whatever. I have just enough time to get high and come back with an innocent look on my face. 

He gives me as kiss as he pushes me out the door "Just ring the bell when you come back." 

He hands me a bag of snacks as if I am going off to kindergarten. I have about two dollars in my purse, a few condoms, an old bus transfer, "the list" which is a comprehensive listing of all the shows in the area, and half a candy bar. The purse is just for show, really. Sometimes I carry a beer in there to keep it semi-cold. 

The bus driver doesn't notice me as I sneak on the back of the crowded bus. I feel nervous and afraid with all these people pressed around me. It has been three days since I have done any drugs of any kind and a week since I got off heroin. I hate it. I hate this feeling of being exposed. I know I am supposed to enjoy normal. It just makes me feel like slitting my wrists. I used to cut myself with razor blades and steak knives. Right now, I tightly twist my hair band so I can feel something. The pain distracts me. 

I slowly walk up the hill to the land that time forgot. The strip clubs and pick up bars are just a few blocks away when a man stops me. 

"You do date?" He asks in broken English. He is a well dressed man. He has a suit on with a loosened tie as if he had a long day at the office. 

I am taken aback by his brazen approach. I start walking again but he is clearly following. 

At the corner, he asks me again "You do date? Around the world."

Around the world means he wants me to give him head then have sex. I am really not in the mood for this shit. I'm tired and cranky and 

"$120. For me and my friend." He tells me. 

Just then I notice another man behind us. He looks harmless enough. An older man in his early 50s. Both in suits. He is standing in front of a cheap hotel. Now, I get it. They have been standing here flagging down hookers. $120 for two dudes is fucking nothing. But I have my own ideas. 

"Ok", I tell him. He grabs my hand and leads me down a hall towards a set of rooms. The rooms here have doors that go straight into a parking lot. Their room is right behind the manager's office. Perfect for me. 

As I enter the room, the older man tried to paw at my clothes. "Wait baby", I tell him. "I need to get cleaned up". 

He nods at me. I direct them to each of their double beds. "Get naked and give me the money. I will leave my purse right here," I tell them. 

The younger man hands me 6 crisp twenty dollar bills as I walk into the bathroom. I shut the door and look at myself in the mirror. I am fucked. I am a fucked up person. I shake my head at myself. Not as fucked as these two dudes though. I wait a few minutes, adjusting my skirt. 

"Are you guys ready to party?" I ask. I hear some muffled yes. 

I took a deep breathe and I walked right passed them, right out of the room. I saw their naked hairy walnuts. One guy was clearly jacking it before I came out. I breezed right by them and straight to the street below. I knew they weren't going to chase me. What could they say. I disappeared into my world and left them with their dicks in their hands. 

Now I could get some dope and stop feeling. That was the only thing that matter in that moment.