I was about to head to a small town I had never heard of in the Upstate part of New York. I was physically uncomfortable in my own skin and sick in a way that I had never felt before. I was told that I had to go “Away” until the courts figured out what to do with me. My attorney warned that I better hope this worked. He advised that I better pray that I don’t get what I deserve. I say “My attorney” but he was not my attorney. More accurately, he was the attorney my folks hired to defend me in a court of law. So it was more like he was “Their” attorney.
I did not like this man, He seemed to have a sick satisfaction while explaining what happens to kids like me in jail. I was small and thin with long, scraggly hair. I was very young looking and soft-skinned. I couldn’t do much to defend myself. I was little, scrawny, weak and mainly hairless, and perhaps it would be fair to call me easier for one to imagine the transition between me being a male and creating me into a female.
And without the ability to fight for my supper (so-to-speak) there would be no way for me to protect myself or adjust to a life behind bars. At best, I could pull a medical and claim that I was suicidal.
Or, I would have to sign a P.C. (Protective Custody) form to keep me from the monsters in general population.
I was only sixteen. I hadn’t even finished going through puberty yet. Yet still, like it or not and ready or not; whether I was able or capable or just a stupid little kid—if the finger pointed me towards the wrong way, I would have to face an initiation that I knew I could never survive.
Everyone warned me about jail but the attorney showed an aroused intenseness, or more accurately, an almost perverse expression on his face when talking to me about what “Could” happen if I go to jail.
I was unsure if this was a way to get me to fall in line or scare me and do as I was told. Either way, who cared? The damage was done.
Maybe it was true.
Maybe they were right. Maybe I’d have to give lap dances or be someone’s butt-wife. The important part here is I truthfully knew that I did not have a “Doing time,” kind of body nor did I have the mentality to serve my sentence.
It was too late though. The stage was set. My options were no longer in my control and my future was to be determined by his Honor, the Judge in the Nassau County District Court.
I knew what was about to happen but nothing seemed real. Maybe I was lost in a dream that I could not wake from. Maybe this was all just a nod and I would wake up on some street corner with a crazy euphoric tale. Maybe I was dead and this was my midway station in purgatory.
In any case, as surreal as this seemed, bottom line, it was all painfully real. I had found myself at the bottom with nowhere left to fall. Either way, I knew something was about to change.
I had no idea what the word sobriety meant. I was certainly unsure why anyone in their right mind would ever “Not” drink.
Alcohol is a part of our culture. Drinking is as American as apple pie. I understood drugs were bad and drugs were illegal. But drinking? I mean, come on now . . .
I understood there was a different opinion on drugs and that crack kills and so does heroin, which were my choices towards the end.
In fact, towards the tail end, heroin was my only choice.
I smuggled all that I could into my room and spent my remaining days before treatment in long, hazy nods, to soften the sharp edges of my reality and make my situation more adaptable—or better yet, no, I did what I did to make the circumstances more tolerable.
I used to consider the dope nods my soft little cocoon, which is where I would climb into my lofty little atmosphere and separate me from the world.
I was free here and away from my consequences. I was away from you, me, my parents, my family, my shame, and my guilt.
I was weightless here and numb. I was euphoric and entranced by the dope gods, dangling by my hypnotic threads, and spaced away from anything that would lead me to see, feel, or think.
I knew what I was on my way to becoming. There were times that I considered a permanent overdose.
I figured I could go out with a bang and not even know I was gone. As I saw it, I thought the dope could take me away peacefully.
I could leave the atmosphere and stay high but then no. I reconsidered this idea when it occurred to me that if I died, I would never experience the sensation of lift off when the high took effect.
I knew there was something wrong though. Of course there was something wrong. I knew I didn’t want to be the way I was.
I knew I wished things were different.
But how else could I be?
What other realistic options did I have?
In all honesty, I had no faith in me or you or in anything for that matter. I did not believe in the Grace of God nor did I believe that if there is a God, He above all would ever reach down to save someone like me.
I had low self-esteem. I had social anxieties and anxious frustrations that gnawed away at the threads of my sanity. It was painful to be me, which is why I chose to anesthetize myself and slowly euthanize me in tiny bags of white powder.
If I died, who cared?
Perhaps the world would be better this way.
I believed the world was against me. I was nothing but a burden to my society.
I was hateful and hated; desperate too, and in my desperation, I did whatever I had to do to whomever I needed to so I could feed myself the only way I knew how.
I equated myself to a roach —which meant that I could be squashed at any time, but I could crawl through shit and still survive. And why? Because in my eyes, this was all I was worth.
I never took into consideration the horseshoe that must have been shoved somewhere in my ass because to survive the sights and things I saw; either there most definitely is in fact a God or I was one of the luckiest little bastards in the world. And maybe I was lucky. Maybe I was the luckiest punk kid in my town.
But it sure as hell didn’t feel this way.
I was on my way Upstate, sitting in the backseat of the car. Mom and The Old Man were driving me someplace on a drive which seemed to take forever. And mind you, I did not want to go. I did not want to be there. But yet, I did not want to be home anymore either. Something had to change. I didn’t even want to be me anymore.
I figured I would go and gain a sense of separation between me and my life. It was painfully apparent that I did not have any real friends. I just had people that used me, which I knew about, and which I accepted because I needed to make a trade. I needed to trade me for the drugs and my soul for the highs I chose.
I knew that I was a joke to most people. I think my last public interaction between me and any of my so-called peers was when I was on the ground, leaning with my back against the side of Meadow Dairy.
This was small delicatessen at the intersection of East Meadow Avenue and Prospect. I was sitting next to Anthony after introducing him to his first bag of dope.
Anthony remarked how he was never going to do this again. He was talking to me but my head was elsewhere.
I was in the midst of a mid-afternoon dream; my eyes three-quarters shut, mouth hung opened, semi-conscious but mainly elsewhere and catatonic.
This is it . . .
This is what I came for.
This was my cocoon.
I was safe here (kinda)
There was a long thin line of drool dangling from the bottom of Anthony’s bottom lip. I knew the hooks were in him too.
He would be back.
I knew it for sure.
“I’m never gonna do this shit again,” Anthony said.
“Yes you will,” I told him.
“So don’t kid yourself.”
This, by the way, is how the sickness spreads. This is how social viruses become epidemics. Believe me; it’s contagious!
Craig was another friend of ours but he was mainly a straight kid. Sure, he drank and smoked and did his share but heroin was an entirely different angle.
He walked up and commented on our condition.
Anthony told Crag to shut up.
Craig looked over at me and said, “Nice. You’re a real good friend. Now you got someone else on that shit!”
And then he walked away.
I knew I needed to leave my town. I had always wanted to leave but where else could I go and who else could I be was always the problem I could never solve?
I knew I needed to get away from the embarrassment. I wanted to escape from the shame I put on my family’s name. Everyone knew. I was in the newspaper for Christ’s sake!
I knew my name was coming up in everything. And this was only making things worse. The so-called code on the streets is never rat on anyone. Somehow, however, that code did not involve me because the cops literally knew everything about me.
Everyone ratted on me. I was thrown under the bus. It was cold for them so they happily used me as firewood to keep their names warm. Therefore, going away didn’t seem like such a bad idea. I just didn’t know how I was going to survive. But at least they had A.A. or so they told me.
I knew what that meant. I knew A.A. stood for Alcoholics Anonymous. I assumed this is where drunks go to educate themselves on drinking. I figured I could go and gain some of my privileges back so that I could eventually learn how to drink properly like everyone else.
After all, A.A. stood for Alcoholics Anonymous. And what do Alcoholics do? They drink. And what does Anonymous mean?
This means you don’t tell anybody.
So, in my demented form of personal math; I added the terms together and assumed this is what A.A. was.
Upon my arrival at the treatment facility, I was advised that I was going to attend my first A.A. meeting that night. I inquired about this with excitement.
The counselor (a guy named Sal) asked, “You sound excited. Do you want to go?”
Sure,” I answered.
“But how does this work. Can I start right away. Is there a problem with my age because I am only turning 17? Or do I just jump right in?”
“You can jump right in,” answered Sal.
“Cool,” I said. “I can’t wait to start.”
Sal picked up on the fact that perhaps I might be misinformed about what happens in A.A. meetings.
“Hold up,” he said.
“What do you think happens in A.A. meetings?”
“It’s Alcoholics Anonymous,” I answered.
Sal laughed a little.
“And what do you think that means?” he asked.
“It means ya drink and ya just don’t tell no one about it, right?”
“Nope,” answered Sal.
“That’s’ not what it means. But you ARE in the right place,” he said.
Son of a bitches tricked me!
I had no idea what was about to happen.
Man, was I in for a rude awakening.
This was the beginning of the end