Sensory Pleasures

this is a new piece I am working on. not finished, just printing for a vibe check

Returning to college at the University of Cincinnati was part of my “redemption” tour. When I finished high school, it was with a bang more than a whimper, which had been the sound my life had made up until that point. Forged out of a family history of both alcoholism and mental illness, I was lucky I had only scraped by with just an eating disorder up until this point. There had been no teen pregnancies, no vandalism (that my parents knew of), there had been only a teensy weensy issue where I had stolen my parents car to check on my suicidal boyfriend. This was actual foreshadowing as he later had to cut down from an attempt that led to serious long term effects. My life was full with both gifted and talented classes AND bullying. Yay. But I had lost a bunch of weight (as I did and I always do) just in time to snag an abusive boyfriend who would essentially ruin my life for years to come. 

I hit the gate to adulthood running. I had come home to my parents with my tail tucked between my legs. It had been a “failure to launch” into adulthood. Teens from my generation were told that the portal to their new life would magically transport them into the land of responsible adults around the time that diploma was being printed. There were a few different options at the time. Start trade school at 16 where you would graduate into a career. There was “homemaking”, the idea of what high school sweethearts would start to breed.  As soon as they had the opportunity to legally go off to their own place, women would hunker down into domestic servitude of a voluntary nature. There was the military. The US had not gotten into a war since we were kids so it seemed a safe vocation. There was college with a major of your parents choosing. Or- there was “get a job or get the fuck out our because you are grown” now. Nuclear families revolved around an antiquated idea of self sufficiency that valued “making it on your own”. Parents would instill this value by casting their children into the lake to see if they could swim. In my case, I was slowly drowning. 

My father drove to the greyhound bus station to pick me up on one of the hottest days of the year. I had walked two miles in the heat with all of my belongings strapped into a tiny suitcase, I occasionally thrust on my head to make it easier to carry. I was wearing a cut up T-shirt, a black skirt with unexplainable rainbow ribbons, leather thong sandals, and a shaved head. I was an amalgam of all the subcultures I had breezed through in the past few years. Not sure if this was the outfit that convinced my father that I was secretly a lesbian but I was quizzed about it more than once after that date. To add insult to injury, my father pissed himself on the ride home. His once contained problem drinking had escalated into a new realm of health problems, DUIs, and failure to hold a job for any consistent period of time. I not only felt sad, I felt sorry for myself. Wallowing in my own self pity would be my new perfume, as I wore that scent everywhere I went. It was the first thing anyone picked up on. That hint of desperation in the air. 

In the time that I had been away from that house, I had made nothing of myself. I kicked around jobs from babysitting to telemarketing to food service. I had lived in four different states, shared a few different beds and made unremarkable grades when I did go to school. I thought the first man who made me cum was the love of my life.  Really, I was just a place for him to stay. That relationship met an unnatural end when he took it upon himself to hook up with my best friend at the time. Being friendless and hopeless was not enough in this cosmic shitshow. I became homeless as well. I found solace in drunken hookups with straight men I met hanging out at the gay bar. I seriously considered marrying an army man I barely knew. I still remember the mixtape he sent me after I got an address again. I think about him from time to time, his kindness in one of a series of bottoms that wouldn’t end until I stopped digging. I imagine they shipped him off to the first Gulf War while I was smothering my emotions in cocaine and Vicodin. I suppose we both liked playing with broken toys. 

A steady escalation from introductory alcoholism to recreational pharmaceuticals culminated in the puncture of my skin. The well worn bee stinger was unable to hold the necessary volume of fluids that would create a proper high from opioids. Instead of a scream, it rang in my head like a dull thud. In any type of transformative drug experience, there are a multitude of sensations. You might need to shit, like you are about to cum, hear bells, and smell sulfur all while your eyes briefly cannot focus. My first foray into drugs wasn’t even worthy of a warning label on late night television commercials for prescription drugs. A bit of dry mouth with a restless desire for more. 

I was enraptured by a life that focused one hundred percent on sensory pleasures. Smoking weed, eating processed food, staying up all night, fucking people who wanted to explore sex for the sake of a good time, injecting drugs periodically to remind myself I was alive. . I was a newcomer to nihilism. The salty kiss of a sweaty person who softly scratched me when I was too high. Waking up with bruises that are attached to no memory. There was no time, no future, no fragment of hope. Only the bitter taste of a coating sucked off a morphine sulphate. I felt unloved and unbothered by the newly acquired risks of my double life. 


  1. “Wallowing in self pity became my new perfume, I wore it everywhere...” - I love this, Tracey!
    More books needed please, they are helping me to get through ‘life on life’s terms’.


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