Hey, SWU fans. SWU has been a consistent source of inspiration for me over the last couple years. That inspiration lead me to finally start trying to write a book of my life. It may fall into many of the cliches of a "junkie memoir", but my goal is to pay attention to the little parts that often get lost in those books: the little human details. Ironically, the sample i am posting is right to one of the gory, exciting parts that everyone wants to hear, but that is not necessarily representative of the book. I am posting mostly to get feedback, and to share part of my journey with the community. I hope you enjoy. This is still in the very early stages of being written, and almost completely unedited. Not to mention, I haven't had an English class in over a decade. Please be kind.
If I remember the specific details of a memory well, specifically the date, it is usually not a good sign. There are the occasional high points in my life that I can remember with clear specificity, but for the most part, if I remember an event with a high degree of detail, it is often a bad thing. It tangles in the mess of my psyche, and against the cloud of things I’ve half-forgotten, it stands loud and sharp. Wheels spinning within wheels, and loops twisting within loops, knots curling within knots. Moments and thoughts whose roots have been lost to time, now spin aimlessly in the tides, pulling in, and drifting away with the spotlight of my focus.
From the last week of December, 2010, one of these rare sharp memories is projected loudly: me standing over the sink at my parents' house, with dope coming on about as good as dope could possibly come on.
Most stories I’ve heard concerning drugs, the first shot is the “best”. That is absolutely not my experience. My first couple toots and shots left me entirely flaccid. I can’t tell you which shot it was that finally got me, but probably about #10. I had to toe the line carefully- I wanted to get off, not get off the ride completely. When I finally built up to the full dose I could handle, I was not quite ready for the intensity. I was used to eating weaker opiates. Taken orally, they play a wavering, low note, that slowly wakes in the stomach, moving up through the cells and chemicals up to the head, slowly over about 30 minutes. IV was a new dimension. The pleasure rocketed right into my core. Opulent. Opulence. Opulence and grace. Opulence, grace, peace, and praise. It’s coming up my throat and up my spine: velvety fog. It rings. I pause and revel in the ringing. The usual prickly static between the boundary of my cells and the outer world is dissipating. Instead, I ring in harmony, and the world rings back. The reverberating makes me morph and melt into the air, into the fabric of space-time. I am no longer a pebble in a shoe, or a sore in the mouth. I am like a single grain of wood, spun seamlessly into the magical being of a tree, fitting perfectly.
In my room, I shot the dope, a micro piece of that fire Minneapolis tar, less than an eight of a point. I re-stashed the cooker, and took the rig to the bathroom sink across the hall to rinse out, right after the shot. I cupped my hand under the faucet and turned on a gentle, trickling stream. The water forms a pool in my hand, and flows out over the sides. I stick the rig into it, suck up water, and shoot it out, 2 or 3 times, to clean the blood out. On the last rinse, the dope in my blood hit my brain with full force. Only about 10 seconds after the shot went off: a sudden change in the tides, the pressure: flooding. Opulence. Grace. Peace. Full in the right places. Empty in the right places. The molecules that made me were finally ringing in harmony with this earthly dimension. It was overwhelming. I turned off the water, capped the rig, and put it in my pocket. I leaned on the sink, my palms on either side of the basin. I looked down into it. It was perfect and untainted. It was gleaming, clean white. It was the special sink that I had known my entire childhood. It was a special family heirloom. A lifetime of pain and gunk was being pressure-washed from the inside. A frothing current was raging around the corners and tunnels in my dark parts. It was making me clean. The dirt and poison that had accumulated and hardened in the corners for 18 years were now floating away as scum on the surface of a mighty river.
Now, for anyone but opiate freaks, the lovely memories of opiate highs do not have the same glow. They are grimy, scratched, strange, foreboding, like dark city alleys. Perhaps a more rational view; I can’t really disagree: most heroin in America has probably been up a butthole, under a dead body, made with poisonously impure solvents, and sitting under a gang-bangers dusty couch. I can’t call you crazy if you see it as a dirty, nasty thing. But you must be made aware of the other world. Heroin, or drugs in general, really, can be as special as Christmas morning: the glow of Christmas lights rainbowing across the wall, the warmth and hum of the furnace kicking on, the doughy smell of cookies and bread. It is an intimate bond, that feels more familiar than you can process, like returning to your childhood home after many years away. Every time a junkie cops, they are holding in their shaking hands a window to that light, to those smells, and those feelings. They are not holding a stinking, vinegary piece of very illegal poison, no, they are holding a 8 hour trip back inside, to early childhood, into those Christmas mornings, into the warm clasp of their family home.
She has gotten close enough for the black hole in me to catch her in its awful, tearing pull. Its very nature is defined by encompassing and consuming. When she saw me, she was blinded by my light, and didn’t see its lurking companion. Blinded long enough for me to get close, close enough to grab hold with all the fervor of a drowning man. She was beautiful inside, too beautiful for the selfishness in me to let her get away. All the ugliness inside me heard the siren call of beauty, unfamiliar and enchanting, and thought it could become beautiful, too, if only it could get close enough.
She hugs me. Warm life wakes in my skin. The feeling wraps around me as I wrap around her. A small, sad voice somewhere chimes up to remind me that I am alone inside, no matter the circumstances outside. I wrap harder, reaching, pulling, trying to incorporate her into myself. She puts a hand between us, gently, on my chest. I slap it away. I cry. I cling. She looks right at me, right through my walls, right into my shameful truth of self. I try to meet her gaze, but this is not like the other times: I don’t see anything like beauty, lust, love, or excitement. I see sadness: sadness I made, and other sadness she kept in silent poise and grace. She knows what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing. It hurts me, but not as much as it would hurt if she got away. Trapped in my pathetic state, I weep “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” and pull her in deeper, until we are both suffocating.