Life happens and we know this. We know this because life happens to us all the time. The time moves and the world turns. We know about this too, but yet, we can’t feel the Earth spin. We just know it happens.
And time, well, time is this ever moving machine, slow and steady, regardless to what we say.
Time moves and the gears in the clock will not, cannot, and do not stop for anyone or anything.
Sometimes the air is warm. Sometimes it is cold. Some days the sun is out. Sometimes it rains and sometimes it pours. This is life on life’s terms. Nothing more and nothing less.
There are these inevitable moments which, we all face. This is part of that machine I was telling you about. This is the gears of time, turning relentlessly, and without forgiveness.
This is time, ticking away, moving in on us, each every day, from now until the hour of our death, amen.
It was early morning. I remember it well. The guards took my shoes the night I came in. The tier smelled awful. The holding cells reeked like uncleaned bodies, urine, and other foul stenches that need not be mentioned. And to mask this, there was a cover-up scent of cleaning solvent that lingered in the tiny hairs of my nostrils.
The night was long. I as uncomfortable and sick. I was bony as well, which meant that my bony ass did not do well as I sat on a wooden bench. I was held and waiting for a bus ride, awaiting to see the judge to find my fate.
I could not rid my nose from the smell of my vomit, which came out earlier before my arrest.
I could not sleep. I could not find a comfortable spot on the bench. I had guest throughout the night, but eventually, I was held to be alone because of my small size and sickliness.
I could hear the chatter of some of the other occupants throughout the night. Their rants came from a cell closer up front near the main doorway. They were shouting about me throughout the night. They told me they had plans for me in the morning.
I was a young kid then. I was pale-skinned, thin as ever and longhaired, which is not a good way to be when you’re locked up in jail. I was afraid, yes, but at the same time, I was relieved for some reason.
That’s right, I was relieved to be where I was. I knew I was in trouble. I knew there was no way out.
I knew I was about to be punished in more ways than one. Something awful was about to happen. This was for sure.
Something terrible was on the way. But either way, regardless to whatever happened next, as I saw it, at least I didn’t have to go back to being me.
Strange to say that although I was facing a stretch of time and although I was looking at a stretch of time in the worst of places, there was something freeing about the fact that at last, my life as I knew it was about to be over.
I used to think about killing myself. I used to wish for a bad batch, which would have been good because then I could just slip away. I could disappear and my end would be simply unnoticed. I could die and not even know. This was my life, admittedly, killing me on a daily basis one small dose at a time.
Of course, I understood there would be pain for my family. I knew they would hurt and mourn but at least they could heal.
As for me, I never believed I could heal. I never thought I would be anything better than I was, which was sickly and thin, painfully awkward, uncomfortable, depressed and sad.
I used to look at other people and wonder how they lived the way they did. How could anyone live their life the way they do?
Does anyone else suffer this way? Or am I always going to be this infinitely alone person, always the odd one, and always so goddamned anxious because my thoughts would never stop?
When people see me, do they know what it was like to live behind the walls of my eyelids?
Did they know what it was like to push up closely to the edge of life, literally euthanized a bag at a time? And this was me too. I would push up to the edge of my existence and slowly, I could see myself dying and somehow be reborn at the same time.
I could see me declining, worse and worse, but nothing could stop me form my self-destruction. Only death could take me apart, which I welcomed. Otherwise, I would live as I lived, lost, and hopeless. This was me, lost and hopeless. Yet this was me in jail, found somehow, and yet, there I was in a terrible room we call the holding cells with terrible men that had terrible intentions.
It is strange to say that awakening here, somehow, I felt free. I knew that something was about to end. I could be someone else now. I could be anybody else. It wouldn’t matter who.
I knew that something was about to change. I knew that I could not live the way I was anymore. However, I also knew that I would never be able to stop on my on.
No, I needed an outside force to change my direction. I needed a catalyst. More accurately, I needed help. Only, I never had the voice to ask for help. I didn’t even know there was help available to me. Who could possibly help me? The only thing I knew that could help me was equally the same thing that was destroying me.
Instead of finding help, I slowly killed myself, hoping to Dear God that I might find an answer in one form or another.
I remember the Early morning sunrise from the wall of my cell. It was August, the end of, and I was closing in on my birthday. I was about to be another year older, which I never expected.
At some point, I figured I was going to be shot dead. At best, I thought I would left for dead with my pockets emptied because I overdosed in a basement somewhere.
I remember a time when I was so high. I talked to God and told him to come get me.
I told him to come take me because apparently, I wasn’t much good at this living stuff.
I remember overdoing it in my room a few times and thinking, “This should do me in.” I thought it would be enough to kill me but I lived.
I remember overdoing it in the basement of a bar near the corner of Front and Merrick. I used to break in here when I needed a place to hide.
I thought I would go one night when someone pointed a small caliber gun right in my face. I didn’t move. I didn’t flinch much, which is not to say I wasn’t scared. In fact, I was petrified. But as I saw it, if I died, then I died, and finally this cat and mouse game I played would be over.
How much longer could I live being this miserable? No friends. No life. Everything was a grind. My freedom became a job to me. Nothing was fun anymore. No exuberance. No enthusiasm. Nothing!
How much more could I steal? How many more people could I hurt or shame myself in front of? How much more shame could feed myself?
I was sick. I was painfully thin. My skin was a terrible shade of green. I hardly ate because my main food group was a white chemical. In fact, everything about me was a chemical reaction to a white powder. And yet, I remember the way people glorified this I remember the romance. I remember the idea of this being cool, like some gangster in some shoot’em up movie.
Where were the rock stars and the cool kids now? All I saw was habit. All I saw was the lies I believed and the price I paid for admission, which, in any case, they always accept on a payment plan. Just don’t fall behind with the interest.
I used to hear people warn me about the lifestyle but I never listened. Besides, it never made sense to me. Why would people in a lifestyle warn me to stay away from it?
If it was so bad then why were they in it?
I used to see this like a dare. I knew it was bad. I knew about dope dens and crack houses. I knew that this was as evil as they come, but yet, there was some deranged kind of status here that illustrated the way I felt about life and myself.
Each time I was warned to sty away; it only drew me in closer. Each time, I stepped closer, I only saw the dangle of a soft dream, which never turned out right.
I tell you this without any uncertainty. The greatest lie the devil ever told was the truth. “Stay away from this, kid.”
“You don’t want this.”
And that’s how it grabbed me, through lies and mystery.
I used to see the older junkies as war veteran’s. Only, no one ever goes home from these battles with medals of honor. At best, all a soldier in this fight can get is a Purple Heart. But that’s just a street decoration. This gives credibility. This means you’ve got history. You’ve been around. This makes you bad, right? Which, in this case, bad is good. This makes you tough. However, in all actuality, none of this us true.
All any of this means is you played too much. You pulled the wrong tails. This means you lacked the words to tell your feelings; you lacked the ability to be secure in your own skin.
There is nothing magical about waking up in a jail cell. There is no tough guy award for this.
More importantly, there is nothing heroic about going to jail, doing time, or putting a needle in your vein, which oddly sounds erotic for some reason.
There is a sound to the above that rings in the ears of the angry and frustrated, —and with no other way to explain themselves or solve themselves, the desperate try desperate things that make sense of their confusion.
I know about this. I remember being a little kid, searching for something to make sense. I wanted something to soften the edges and solve the ideas in my head.
I needed something to remove the boredom. I needed something to alleviate the tension. This way I wouldn’t feel so damned uptight all the time. And that was me, uptight. I was uncomfortable, always worried, always anxious and always waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
This was me, uncomfortable being who I was, wishing I was like anyone else. I wished I was taller and stronger. I wished I knew what to say. I wished I knew how to act.
I wished life came natural to me and more than anything I wished I knew how to get ahead and play the game straight.
But I didn’t.
I never believed in me. As I saw it, I needed something to help cure the insecurities and stop the thought machine from spinning in my head.
I swear the drugs seemed like a good idea at the time. I got high to have fun. I did it to be cool. I did this to create an image, or better yet, I used this life to build a mask and a shield, which I would hide behind whenever I felt scared or uncomfortable.
I was tired as hell. I was angry. I was at the end of my rope, and yet, there I was, sitting in a jail cell and watching the sky’s first light change into dawn. I saw sunlight come in through the window at the top of the wall along the tier.
I swear this was like my personal genesis. I watched the sunlight come through a little crack of a frosted window. The window was slightly opened and tilted outward.
Everything else around me was man-made and synthetic. Even the air was re-manufactured. But not the sunlight from outside. No, this was real. I could see it.
I knew there was something about to change. I knew that at last, I could find a new way to live.
I knew someone was going to come along and take me away. I admit that I was scared. Hell, I admit to being petrified but at least this meant I wouldn’t have to run out and be me anymore.
I was sick. Yes, I was. I was at the end of my rope. Had I stayed as I was, and I swear this is true, I would have been nothing more than another statistic, just some young kid, dead from an overdose.
But no. I was spared. I was given another chance. And I took that chance. I took it even though there were people that told me I’d never make it.
Never make it?
I will be sober 29 years in six months.
I don’t know if I made it or not but one thing is for sure. I definitely made something.
I have watched presentations in schools and watched the students look at the speakers like perverts watch porn because the warning is not a deterrent. Remember, the greatest lie the devil ever told was the truth.
Stay away from this kid . . .
You don’t want this.
Next thing you know, you’re on a line, waiting to be helped, and coming back for more, which is the seance. This is the sad romance and the tragedy that is equally deadly and equally addicting. It’s not the life we chose that needs attention. It’s the reason behind this that needs to be empowered.
I swear, we have to save our own life on a daily basis.
If you can’t do it, then let me know,
We can figure this out together . . . .