Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Conversation

"I spent six years living on the streets", I told him. "Two years of that living outside." 
I meekly reach for my lukewarm beverage as I sink into the bench. I feel like a little kid at the table for adults. Do I belong here? hate that feeling of being exposed. I spent many years putting on masks the way my mother used to cake on her makeup. It is rare that anyone sees what is underneath all the mythology I created for myself. I am pushing the boulder back up the hill, waiting for the end of a beautiful friendship.

To be a drug addict in "the life", one must completely embrace the idea that no one can be trusted, not even yourself. I have buried the truth so deep inside of me, I forget where to find it. Not the truth of daily living but the truth that is only accessed on a sleepless night when you wet the sheets with tears and the heat of pain leaving the body. The truth is revealed only in shadows while hidden away at the very same time. I lived my life with one truth- I was wholly in the grips of the drug I loved/hated so much. Now, sober, I have to sort through this life with no real idea of what comes next. 

It is rainy outside. The windows are dripping condensation from steam  and the faint smell of regrets. It feels like my mind is on fire. I am too nervous to eat, I push my food around in circles.  When I start talking about myself, my stomach turns in a similar way as it did when I reached my hands out for little bags of dope down the street. My past, this is generally my ace in the hole. It gives me the ability to shut everything around me down. The general public is so horrified by my poor choices, the rest of the conversation involves voyeuristic question or vain attempts at making me feel safe. Either way, I win. I don't have to be myself. I can be whatever you want me to be. I'm your huckleberry, your whore, or the mother you never had. I don't have to be myself; I have already been defined by a few moments in a long life that involved syringes. 

When the words slowly trickle by, I am not safe here. I am dangerous. I am wounded. I am cornered. I have to face someone who sees through me because I let them in. It is so delicate, this moment, when I wait to see their reaction. Will they judge me for what I am or who I was? What is the next joke that I can tell to shift the focus. I am still shivering but not from the walk here. We traveled a mile in the rain, handing them a pair of my glasses to see the world through my eyes. 

I hold my breath in waiting for a moment when I can live again. It isn't isn't just the track marks that need healing. It is the idea that I am somehow unworthy of love. That lies at the core of my existence, a jagged hole this new square life can't fill. I can bury myself in food or charm some random out of their clothes or buy the perfect outfit to cover up the ugly I feel inside. I know I am better than this but when I wake up from my dream state of self delusion, I missed the rest of the conversation. I was too busy sitting there judging myself. I felt better. I felt lighter. I crawled out from underneath the stones than cover my chest. For a few moments, I was completely present. It was an unfamiliar feeling but one I enjoyed.  

I brushed the raindrops off the pin on his jacket at the train station.  That was way of saying thank you.