I was raised by the television.
In 1976 my mother had to return to work when my father lost his business in the great recession. He got tired of selling furniture and pool tales and whatever other menial jobs he acquired when he left the Navy. He had joined to get out of poverty. He had no running water until he was 17. When his mother died, he was left nothing but two quilts and a Bible. He was a Hillbilly that crawled all the way into a bottle after his wife was forced out of the kitchen and into the office.
The TV raised me. Both my parents worked. I came home with a key on a chain around my neck. I stuck things in the microwave to heat them up while my brother listened to Led Zeppelin upstairs. I’d spin myself in circles trying to feel outside of myself. I’d sit on the stairs, listening to my parents argue, taking me and my footy pajamas back into my room. I saw my future in the bottom of the glass of whiskey one of my “uncles” asked me to hand him while he subtly grabbed my shoulder. Men are gross, I told myself without knowing it was just him.
I watched BET. I listened to Kool Moe Dee. I learned the way Big Daddy Kane went to work. I knew that Alexander O’Neil was innocent and want to ride the white horse. I watched “Lady Sings the Blues”. Diana Ross was my hero. I brought a tray of food to my grandmother in the basement. She is hearing those voices again. She’s speaking her Spanish while her husband sneaks me drinks of his beer. I like his tattoos. I don’t understand why there are times she calls me by another name or why she needs him to take care of her. I just know that she scares me. I lock her in the basement. She smacked my face when I let her out. That was the first time but wouldn’t be the last.
I saw Night Flight. There was punk rocks. I was from a rural place with a dead end street. The punk was rocks until I didn’t realize it was plural. I went to school with people that would eventually know each other their whole lives. I would find out on facebook that they all think I’m still a prostitute when I actually have been clean five years. I used to smoke weed all day long. I wished for a drug that was a bit stronger. My whole paycheck spent drinking shots at the bar. An eighth of weed lasting me one afternoon. Heroin, my heroin, where could you be? I am standing on my porch. I’m suicidal from two vicodins and two bottles of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.
Then I crawled into the television. I became my own show. Three days up on meth or cocaine. My hands are so swollen, I can’t put them down. I’m cross eyed trying to fix with a barbed syringe. Sticking myself over and over until I finally put the shit up my nose. I just wish you could love me. I just wish I could love myself. My socks haven’t dried out in a week. Part of my foot came off with my shoe. There are no holidays here. There are no special occasions. A boy gave me an ice cream bar. I guess that means we are in love. I give him my dirty needles to take to the exchange. We’ll share everything- including Hepatitis C.
The pimp Larry promises me that if I join him I will make no less than $100 a date, even if I have to stay out all night. I tell him I can do two dates for $50. I can be home in half the time. Why would I give you my money. Heroin is my pimp. It keeps me working 24/7. The crazy white boy with the blue eyes and the terrible prison tattoos wants me to come to his “place” tonight. His shopping cart is parked two alleys over. I can’t have sex anyway. I have a bladder infection right now. I’m crying in the lobby of my hotel because I spilled my antibiotics. The counselor from the program tells me fake it until you make it. I’ll try.