Once the bag was in my hand I forgot about everything that came before it.
I forgot about my worries. I forgot about the police or the things I swiped to catch my fix.
There are different ways to escape.
Some like to drink to feel better while others take pills to keep the edge off.
But me….I liked to feel weightless.
The cocaine buzz was more like an electric charge than a threat to me. I remember the first time I tried it……
Chunky white powder fell from a tiny red envelope and scattered onto a mirrored piece of glass. I touched a small piece with my finger and then placed it in my mouth.
Initially, I was reminded of how a nine-volt battery tastes when placed at the tip of my tongue. The bitterness cloaked and numbed the inside of my lips.
I felt cool….
I took a straw and cut into shorter parts. Then I took one of the shorter parts, slid the straw into my nose, and approached the mirrored glass.
I recall the reflection of my eyes staring back at me. The hole in the straw moved closer to the white lines, and in the background,
I heard someone in the group say, “Make sure you don’t blow out, asshole. If you do, it will go everywhere and then I’ll have to kick your ass.”
I was nervous, but I defended myself. “I know what I’m doing.”
Earlier that night I had taken two hits of mescaline, but the hits did not work.
I had come off a mescaline trip three days earlier and perhaps I built a tolerance.
This happens with psychedelics drugs; one dose today would need to be doubled on the next for it to be effective. And since I only had two, two is what I took.
I usually felt my stomach turn the beginning of every trip. This was followed by hallucinations and trails, which followed behind all moving objects.
Once in the grasp of mescaline, everything I looked at seemed to have a purple and green outline. But this night, there was nothing.
I smoked a joint…but that wore off.
I was standing with a group of local hoodlum outside of a video arcade. The Friday was no different from any other.
The same people that hung around were always around. It was summer and the sun went down later in the evening.
This is when someone pulled up in their car after a trip from Brooklyn.
My first bag cost $20.
It was more speed than coke ….but it worked.
A small group of us chipped in for two bags. Then we left and found someplace where we could be away from everyone.
We were all babies at the time. We were 14. The oldest may have been 15 or 16, but we were all just stupid little kids.
I watched as one kid place the straw into his nose. He gently touched the plastic opening over the tip of his first line.
Then he quickly sniffed as hard as he could, moving the straw across the line, and ending his snort with a loud, drawn out, “Ahhhhh.”
There were only one or two lines when left when it was my turn.
That’s when I heard, “Make sure you don’t blow out….”
As the line of powder traveled through my nasal passage, I felt a numbing trail of electricity shooting into my right nostril.
I snorted the second line through my left. Then I sat back and looked around at the others.
All of them were wide-eyed and their expressions were straight-faced. Everyone spoke quicker than they did before, and I suppose I looked and sounded no different.
I felt a cool sensation fill throughout my body. It was perfect; there was no fear or sadness. I had forgotten about the threat to kick my ass.
My breathing changed as my face became numb. The tension in my neck was relieved and my mind was soothed into a lofty sense of ease.
There was a post-nasal drip which tasted bitter, but it also numbed the back of my throat, and sent the leftover powder to disintegrate into my bloodstream.
I did not see what I was doing as dangerous. I saw it as Hollywood and flashy. I certainly never saw the drug as life-threatening.
And while the quality was poor, it did the trick.
The mescaline kicked in and I spent the next eight hours feeling a sensational rush with a touch of mild hallucinations.
This was my entry point. This is where it started.
It began with 20 bags and a rock star appeal. I figured addiction happened to other people. Maybe addiction only happened to the emotionally weak.
Perhaps, I thought drug addiction was a lie and I considered the anti-drug culture to be a fraud and a way to keep people from feeling good, or seeing the truth.
In the moment, I felt perfectly detached from any concern or resentment.
How could something like that be bad?
Fast forward, and I learned there was truth behind the term, “You get what you pay for.”
Because I was small and young looking, it was hard for me to score. This meant I was ripped off a lot. This also meant I had to steal more and sometimes pay twice, but why not, I saw anything I did or paid for as the price of admission.
I figured the money I lost, the merchandise I stole, and the friendships I ruined were all part of a package deal. The more I tested the waters, the braver I became, and the braver I became, the deeper I sunk.
After I picked up my bag, I forgot about everything that led up to that point. Anything I did was to pay the price of admission. However, the price of admission was more when the quality improved.
And when the quality improved, the high was higher, but the crashes were lower.
I understood more about the straight-faced and wide-eyed expression. My jaw locked tightly and I spoke through my teeth. The post-nasal drip, the powder, which tainted my bloodstream, and the willingness to maintain the lofty highs changed into a more desperate action.
I stole, lied and cheated, I did whatever I had to do in order to fix myself.
That’s why they call it, “A fix.”
The Friday night ideas spread into Saturdays and Sundays. Weekends blended into weekdays, and before I knew it….I was caught.
The rock star life, or the membership of cool, had swung.
The beginning of my binges was always the same. The first taste was great.
I quit the normal posture of using mirrors or trying to be cool with my fix. The one line at a time became more and more.
I often placed the straw in my bag, put the other end into my nostril, and then quickly snorted the contents.
The 20 bags became more frequent and so were the quantities; grams became eight-balls, and eight-balls became quarter ounces.
But this is what happens
The first line gets you there. The first hit, or taste, re-introduced me to the soft, cool rush, which I grew to depend on. My mind lightened, and in the beginning of my beautiful chaos, I was as high as I could be until I crashed. The second line, or bump, did not bring me as high. I fell deeper, and then next lines were only to keep from the deep pit, or fiend, as we called it.
No matter how much I had, once the drug was gone, the good hours passed in the glimpse of minutes, and the bad hours lasted an eternity.
The need for more was so strong.
I would crawl on the floor with cigarette lighters, trying to find tiny specks of powder, and hoping that I could accumulate enough to build one more line and stop the terrible aftermath.
This is the hardest part.
This is where I did the things I swore I would never do. This is when the cocaine demons laughed and the price of admission was doubled.
All I was trying to do was find the perfect high. I wanted to feel the right feeling and keep it for as long as I could.
However, the methods changed. Or maybe it is better to say the methods evolved.
I heard, “Snorting works good, but smoking it works better.”
I learned to cook up out of a bent spoon with a tiny bit of baking soda, cocaine, and water.
I learned how to mix the three, and then I held the bottom of the spoon above a flame from either a cigarette lighter or a candle.
Candles were good because the kept lit and they would light the dark places where I used to hide. Candles also allowed me to save the butane in my lighter, and having a lighter is the key to smoking anything.
Once over the flame, the spoon would heat, and the ingredients would cook out the impurities, before solidifying into flaky white chips.
The next step was placing the flaky white chips into a glass pipe, where the lighter would heat the sides, and the contents would again begin to sizzle.
I placed the back end into my mouth and sucked every ounce of smoke, holding it deep within my lungs until my lungs could take no more.
In seconds, my ears began to ring and my entire chest felt hollow and numb. As I exhaled the smoke, my hearing changed as if my emotional altitude was so high that my ears popped, and once more, I found myself in the heavenly feel of weightlessness.
This was it for me. This was the feeling I wanted. But again, the better the high, the worse the crash, and the price of admission would always double.