Powerful writing in the vein of personal identity when faced with “to normalize or not” decisions like I’ve been wrestling with. One talented SOB and the grandmaster over at Sudden Denouement.
There is a gaping pressure to perform
and become something more inline
with the standard expectation
that we all face daily. To become
a contributing and upstanding
shill to the mockery lifestyle of
the norm. Where an unabridged story
of what life has really been like
would cause discordant gasps
and choking on $7 coffees. A land
of spreadsheets and data with endless
phonecalls and emails to confirm
that we are all part of this droll
and seemingly futile empire of dreams.
Each moment will be etched as gray
as the moment prior and only
punctuated by the sycophantic
bleating that denotes contrived success.
But there can be joy milked
from every endeavor, every adventure
and journey of any kind. For all I lament
the necessity of this change
I recognize that this, as so much else in life,
is temporary in passing. A gateway
to attain a degree of comfort for myself
and those that I care deepest about.
Walking through the door framed
in expectations is a moment of sacrifice
and service to the good nature of love
where we are willing to endure,
seek to excel, survive and adapt
all for the promise of a more easy smile.
Once the game begins, I enjoy the race
rat or otherwise. I’m programmed
to enjoy the chase, the thrillingly mundane,
the average existence. In some ways
I know the unsuspected truth of experience,
let it guide into appreciation for opportunities
and a day not on the street or going hungry.
For the leakless roof overhead
the potential for participating in the world.
I hate the side of me that is drooling
at having funds available and the luxuries
that they provide. Its almost as though
my inner monsters haven’t been sated,
are waiting for the next opportunity to scorch
away the meat and tender outline
of my flesh gone to pasture in the haze
where hard living is the only pleasure to be found.
An ex-girlfriend stole my shoes once. By breaking in through the floor level hotel room window I was in while I was preoccupied with injecting another fifty units of liquefied crack and vinegar. I even came out when I heard the noise. All I was capable of doing however, was to stare blankly while trembling under the pressures of the locomotive that was my heart careening off the rails inside my head. Didn’t even say anything, just stared.
It was a bizarre occurrence to be sure. I could only fuzzily sketch out how I had l had hefted her bodily not 30 minutes previously–out into the hallway following what was a reasonable argument taking on unreasonable levels. Now she was snaking out the window to my room dragging behind a pair of black and white Nikes that happened to be my only pair of shoes I had brought.
Earlier that day I had seen my children for the first time in more than a year. At a supervision center I had ridden the buses and trains for eight hours to get to. Just one hour that I paid for out of pocket. They looked beautiful, he was handsome, she was angelic.
Far more than I could take
My ex-wife had structured things so as to ensure I would have to return to my old stomping grounds of New Bedford, MA and this dingy facility if I wanted any access to the kids at all. It was the same city I had desperately sought to get away from during my attempts to get sober. Aside from my children, there was nothing there but the grime and filth and needle strewn streets and shit memories and traumas and fuckups and locations and people I didn’t want or need anything to do with.
I had won $10,000 on a scratch it a few weeks before, something that I never thought would happen though I had kept gambling on them periodically for most of my adult life. I had started a new job a few months previously as well. I was living in a halfway house and had been there for nearly 6-months, longer than I had stayed anywhere in several years now. Things were upbeat with many reasons for optimism and putting nose to grindstone while enjoying some happiness for once.
After seeing the kids I broke down. I knew how much of their absence in my life was my fault, both before and the recent inability to clean up my act.
I checked into a hotel and managed to track down my ex-girlfriend.
She was doing amazing, clean, signed up for school to become a certified drug and alcohol counselor—she was really putting the pieces of her life back together again.
I don’t know if I showed up with the drugs to the hotel and met her, or ordered them after we got there. I do remember using the inside of a hardened blue glasses case as my mixing surface for the rocks. It was good stuff, probably should have just been smoking it, but once you progress to the needle it’s something of an end all be all.
You mix crack with vinegar or another highly acidic agent to break it back down to water soluble form. I used Braggs Apple Cider with “The Mother” because it was rich in amino acids and somehow in my addled puddle of a brain that meant it was better to use for these particular purposes. That and it reminded me of making salad dressing at the home I had once owned.
Shot after shot after shot, ringer after ringer after ringer. All she wanted to do was cuddle up and maybe read some of the book she was studying from with me.
Rock, vinegar, mix, pull-up, vein, red flash, push plunger, go lightheaded, gasp, nearly orgasm, fall slowly when short gulping air, wind up sitting on the edge of the bathtub shaking head to clear the spots from vision and WHUMWHUM from my ears, rubbing quickly inflating arms to try and minimize the swelling.
Lost in and to a ritual, there was no mind being paid to anything else but the same rinse and repeat exercise as had just played.
I realized things had escalated rather dramatically when the chocolate cake was flew past my head, She came at me with those sharpened nails of hers, tried to grab the drugs and throw them in the toilet. Failing that, my ears and face were a good enough post to thud into.. Holding her up against the wall so she would stop ripping at my face, getting spit in my eye before throwing her out into the hallway. I was callous and cruel and willfully ignoring the pointed reality of what I had been doing and how it must have felt to watch me self-destruct so viciously.
Then she stole my shoes.
I had smashed my cellphone earlier that evening in some bizarre fit of rage over something seemingly trivial. Thrown it so hard against the wall the mental housing of the iPhone had crumpled as the screen shattered.
I used the hotel’s lobby phone to call a taxi who took me to get a pair of flip flops at a pharmacy and take me to the hospital for the cuts on my face. The idea of just grabbing some first aid for myself at the pharmacy never even crossed my mind. For quite some time I had become accustomed to just going to the hospital when things had gotten to be too much and I was dehydrated, or crazy from lack of sleep, or desperate for another rehab. It was second nature.
They thought I was there for chest pains after taking my pulse rate. The EKG came back okay and they let it slide though.
Eventually I made it back to the hotel.
The wall in the bathroom was covered in chocolate cake, towels were laying all over the floor. I knew “it” was going to fall apart again with a twisting certainty in my gut born of seeing the same thing happen over and over. Different implosions, different actions at least—but the same result no matter what. Isolated, lonely, confused, ashamed and embarrassed, it never seemed to change.
When I kept shooting coke for the next two days and had to resign my position I was barely even surprised.