It was quiet . . .
I certainly remember that much. We were sitting in the mostlydry mouth of a concrete tunnel at the beginning of a sewer system, which funneled the town’s rainwater from street drains and took them into a sump. We were located midway up the south side of Glenn Curtis Boulevard between Merrick Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike. This was a perfect place away from most of the elements.
It was very late during a cold winter’s night beneath a full moon. Perhaps, this was somewhere around February, —but I can’t say for sure. The nighttime sky was cloudless and clear with bright stars that hovered over my small Long Island town.
The moonlight touched down along the sandy-bottomed floor of the sump to electrify the cold ground with a shade of midnight blue. The air was below freezing cold and the wind was sharp against the bare skin. I had nothing in my stomach and the pool of vomit at my side left a stench to permeate the nostrils.
Of course, I was not alone at the time. Of course, I was there with my usual so-called partner and running mate. He was nodded out. His back leaned against the curvature of the tunnel, eyes closed downward but seemingly trying to lift with his mouth semi-opened to define a state of semi-consciousness. He had bluish skin and rusty-like blonde hair. His knees were propped up closely to his chest and due to the semi-darkness of the tunnel; I was able to see his face as a shadowy form, which was fitting, because the moment seemed crucial and deadly.
This was at the beginning of our new venture. Or perhaps I should say it was the two of us fighting back against the wired and constantly grinding, wild and frayed nervousness of crack demons, which had been exchanged for a downrightly slow and perfect crawl. All the insanity had settled. All the paranoid whispers were hushed. All the warnings I had heard and all the lectures; all of the times I said things like, “I would never do anything like that,” had all come to mind in an almost surreal way.
“It’s too late now, kid. You’re in too deep.”
The idea seemed to make sense at the time. This was a way to cancel out the impulsiveness left behind by the cocaine bugs that weave through the mind. And this made sense to me because since I had already gone this far to find that perfect mindset; —another few steps further wouldn’t mean anything else.
“Might as well,” is what I thought. I figured this would be the perfect way to ease myself down. Otherwise, I would have to deal with the crack-fiend mentality. I would have to settle with the coke-gods and find a way to get more. At least with dope, I could do my bags and settle down, close my eyes, and it wouldn’t matter where I was or where I went. As drastic as this measure seemed for me; it all made sense at the same time.
I could hear the wind outside. I could hear it whip through nearby tree branches. I could hear the sound of sporadic cars driving passed us on the mainly quiet late night roadway of Glenn Curtis overhead. To me, this was almost the sound of life passing me by.
I was very young but I was so much older in a cynical sense. I was about to abandon the world and resigned to the idea that this is life. And there was no fear of life’s end because an end would have been fine for me. I wanted to die anyway; I just wasn’t sure how to do it.
I used to rehearse ideas of suicide. I used to play out the recordings in my mind and consider the possible means towards an inevitable end. These were the thoughts of my misfit life. They were the inaccurate perceptions of me and interpretations of the world, in which I thought, were all painfully real. I never thought much of myself. I never saw myself as a real person but more like this entirely separate entity; one in which, I was me and you were you and in no way could the distance between me and the world could ever be mended or repaired. If I were to die like this; it would have been fine because the end would have been finalized through a drifting, painless sense of fading consciousness. And I I enjoyed this.
I enjoyed the temporary weightlessness of feeling high. I liked the distance it put between me and the rest of the world. As I saw it, nothing could hurt me here. There was no pain whatsoever. I was anesthetized and euthanized in a sense while daring the edge consciousness. I loved the nod. I loved the way I felt because it was warm there (even in winter) and the thought machine could rest for a while.
I never thought much about anything when I was high. I accepted the trade and gave away my youth in exchange for an overwhelming sense of mindlessness. And this may not have looked pretty to the outside eye. I certainly did not look well.
Then again, when I was in my little cocoon; I never concerned myself with the way I looked or if I was showered, if I changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, nor did I care what I smelled like, —and I certainly never looked in the mirror because as it was, I didn’t like what I saw. Therefore, I never looked in the mirror because rather than see the proof of my sad existence, I could ignore my truth and feed into my system of lies while keeping my needs healthy and fed.
Meanwhile, the others around my age were preparing to finish high school. They were preparing for the rest of their lives while I was preparing the end of mine. There was no such thing as future plans. As I saw it, I had no future. And I accepted this. It was only fate that separated me from who I was then. It was a simple chance that I walked off in one direction while the rest of my friends went a different way. I was taken out of the game but not willingly. . .
And I had too many angles I had to play, which was tiresome for me. Everybody ripped me off and everybody hated me, which meant I had to find other places to score and other places to pick up. I was too light to fight and defend myself. I was too lonesome to complain about the way my last few (so-called) friends were treating me.
I was too depressed and felt too worthless to do anything else but muddle through and accept the trades, which led me towards deeper depression. I had no one to talk to. And even if I did, I’m not sure I would have known how to explain myself. I didn’t have the understanding or vocabulary to express my feelings. Everything seemed amiss; everything seemed too failing to address. So why bother?
When I crossed over that invisible line and entered into a more deliberate sense of despair; I found this thing called heroin and for the while, all was hushed and finally quiet
Truth is I was just a kid. I was lost. I was caught up on this idea and swept away while trying to find the ultimate rush. I wanted to find the ultimate high and an ultimate way to shake the boredom and nonsense of everyday life.
There is a saying I remember that goes like this: In the land of the blind, he with one eye is king. And me, I was essentially blind at the time. I was blind and looking for something that could lead me away. In fact, one of the bags I chose was named King that was scored from a place near 134th Street and Willis Avenue.
I wish I could go back sometimes and speak to me then. My partner in this story is one of my oldest, longtime friends. We still speak, although life gets in the way sometimes, but we speak when we can.
Sometimes we laugh about the old stories. Sometimes we laugh about the good times and sometimes we ask each other, “What the hell were we thinking?”
He always says, “We didn’t have people like us to talk to.”
He once told me, “God, I wish we had someone like us to talk to back then.”
“Maybe all this shit could have been avoided if we did.”
Back to the tunnel in the bottom of that sump, I was somewhere around 16 years-old. My family life and social life had become empty. I lost touch with most of the crowd I hung around. Plus, I was somewhat of an outcast and put on somewhat of a long waiting list that was written by different people looking to beat me up on sight.
Somewhere deep within myself, I knew this was wrong. I knew there was a natural order to teenage life; however, I was too far removed from me and that dream we call life.
I was too far gone and too convinced that at best; this is all I was capable of. I had no understanding of my value. I didn’t know I was worthy or deserving of more.
No, not at all, in fact I resigned to the fate of an expected early death. I knew what this life entailed and I signed that contract the minute I opened my first bag. But I was okay with the finality of this. And of course I was okay with it; I was under the influence of beautiful poison that took me away in slow nods.
I would think to myself, “Death is probably not so bad.”
“It’s probably warm where I’m going anyway.”
It was several hours into the night. There were several tiny plastic vials scattered around on the bottom curvature of the tunnel. It could have been a freebase night as well, in which we probably used the bacteria infested water we found in the sewer.
In any case, all the contents of our previous packages were gone and smoked away. My glass pipe was burnt and cracked from overuse. The unstoppable whispers in my head had all agreed to enjoy the quiet. I did not want to stand, get up, or move. I was fine to sit there in a filthy sewer and feel the incredible reversal of gravity.
I was fine to crawl inside this somewhat new cocoon; to feel myself in the warm embrace, to trace the edge between life and death, and to feel the weightlessness of life without existence. I was fine here
Meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of town were groups of kids that were my age and they were living their life. They did things like plan for prom or go to driver’s education classes.
They went to school and went through the normal rites of passage. But me, I hadn’t been to a real school since my second time around in ninth grade. In fact, I never really got out of ninth grade. I was told I was never sure how. I never took any classes. I never took any finals. At the end, I wasn’t even in school. No, at the end, I had teachers come to my house but I never did homework and I never took any tests. And while other kids were fine to live, I was fine to die and to me, it was just that certain.
I was tired but fine to accept my position. I was sad but willing to accept the trade of my dreams for a chemical that relaxed my need to think, feel, or consider my position in life. I was resigned to the fact that this was me and this was all I would ever be. I was resigned to the fact that death is inevitable and that somehow, I would probably die soon. So why bother.
Whether I would die from an overdose, suicide, or from a bullet through my head; either way, I knew that everyone has to go sometime. Everyone dies and since nobody knows when, I sought to take control over my death by teasing the line in what I considered to be a painless way.
Man, I was this little kid at the time. I was terribly small and painfully thin. I weighed 80lbs at best. I tied the belt loops of my blue jeans together because I didn’t have a belt, nor did I want one because the slim size of my waist would draw attention. And if my waist didn’t grab attention, the sickly shade of my skin would have probably raised an eyebrow.
There were more nights like the one in the tunnel. There were more times when I addressed the idea of dying, but I was fine because I had this thin line, —which was more like a barrier, which I was safe to hide behind so long as I had a few bags to keep me going,
My face looked skeletal with black rings beneath my eyes. As a matter of fact, I have proof of this somewhere in an intake picture that was taken of me the first day I walked through the doors of a treatment facility.
I was so young, sickly looking, and pale. I was sick at the time and feeling sicker. I went off my prescribed medication, thinking I could just stop on my own because I didn’t think I needed that medication anyway. I was vomiting often, miserable, and feeling worse as the days went on. I had no idea what a benzo was (Short for benzodiazepine). I also had no idea that I would go through withdrawals from my lifestyle.
(I thought that only happened to addicts . . .)
At the end of my time as “That kid,” I was alone and couldn’t leave my house. But I had a source that helped me load up, so I stayed in my room, throwing out the last of my belongings before leaving for treatment, and resigned to the long hours of lonesomeness with no one else but me and that warm cocoon to keep me company
I wondered why would anyone clean up and walk the straight line. I wondered if this was just me and others were able to maintain their habit. Maybe it was just me, I thought. Maybe this is because I never knew how to “Be cool.”
Man, I wish I had someone to talk to back then . . .
This last Friday, I went to a school in Cresskill New Jersey to share a little bit about who I am, what I do, and why I chose to do these kind of lectures.
They were ninth graders. I stood in front of them and thought to myself, “Holy shit! I was there age once.”
I was there age and ready to welcome death.
But I gave them what I had . . .
I hope somebody took something from it because it would literally hurt me if any of them felt the way I did when I was their age.
Just a side note: afterwards a girl approached me with a friend of hers. She was too shy to say much. But eventually she opened up. She didn’t go through the same thing but she did understand my feelings because she has the same ones. She understood depression. She understood social awkwardness. This just proves to me addiction is a symptom of a disease. It’s a response to something brewing in our minds. We need to get rid of the root if we want to kill this deadly weed that’s killing our society. And that’s why I do what I do. I say we get to them when they’re young . . .