Monday, December 21, 2009

Then and Now



Just over a week ago, I found myself making a nightly drive down 6th Street, from downtown LA, heading west, back to my house. I was making this nightly drive, back from a theater, where my 6 year old son was in heavy rehearsals for The Nutcracker. As I made the drive each night, I thought about the street and how different it looks now and how different it was to me once upon a time.

Let me be completely honest with you. I used to do some drugs. 6th street, right around Alvarado, was usually a sure bet for copping drugs. In the event that my dealer was unavailable, I could usually cop down there in under a minute. Actually, I became adept at finding what I needed in any city. Wow, that felt weird to write. This post feels weird, but it is what happened and I cannot alter the truth. So, the street has changed somewhat since I was a junkie. The Home Depot and Food For Less popped up, practically across the street from the donut shop, which at one time was basically a drive thru for heroin. But, the donut shop remains, as does The Hotel Barbizon, which was the last stop for a dear friend, many moons ago.

On one of these nights driving back from the theater, I thought about December of 2000. I was on a short-lived, but horrifying relapse. I ended up in that neighborhood a lot- my dealer was in jail, so I needed to get the heroin somewhere, and I was smoking crack, which made the whole experience that much more devastating, and the trips down there that much more frequent. I sometimes bought from these middle-aged women who used a taco stand as a front. Then there was the Latina single mom, who would meet me in the Burger King parking lot on 3rd and Alvarado. I don’t think I have set foot in a Burger King since then. Those were some of the most pathetic days of my life.

That December, 9 years ago, was painful.....painful because I couldn’t stop, painful because I hated myself, painful because I was passively trying to kill myself. I lied to everyone I knew. I couldn’t hold it together at all. I was a wreck and it was very apparent. I remember trying to cop on Christmas Day, getting dope sick and having to pull it together to be with my family. I cringe when I think of how I must have looked. I thank my lucky stars that I am no longer there. No matter how challenging life can get, it has never been as bad as it was then....and I have been through some painful life stuff since then! But, it pales in comparison to that self-imposed prison I created.

There was a time, once I got clean, that I avoided 3rd Street to 6th Street, between Alvarado and downtown, as merely being in the vicinity could bring on the cold sweats and stomach cramps. Now, I am far from who I was then, I can drive down these streets and they don’t make me feel sick...they make me feel grateful, that somehow, I managed to break the cycle and learned to live. I have a pretty good life, I have this amazing kid, loving friends and family....and I don’t want to kill myself anymore. I know who I am and I am ok with me, flaws and all. When I had my son, something shifted, in my core....because I love him more than I could ever hate myself. This makes me very lucky, because I don’t think that always happens. So, on the tail of feeling blue the past few days, I want to acknowledge, for myself, that life is not so shabby. In fact, I kind of won the lottery.

7 comments:

brendan donnelly said...

yes you did!

Anonymous said...

pity you didn't od

trey said...

Someone opens up and shares something personal and that's your response?Classy

cougs said...

thank you for this post. it takes bravery to share such heavy stuff. i appreciate the honesty in your posts. you always find the greatest photos also!! what's your secret?

as for the anonymous comment - wtf is wrong with people?? stop reading her blog if you don't like it. and crawl back under your rock while you're at it. jeeze.

erin said...

Thank you Cougs! The pictures are from all over! I keep an archive on my computer. Many of them are from tumblr, ffffound, and flickr- mostly found randomly. xo

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post brought me back to my own horrible dope memories. I can't walk down certain street in NY without remembering my horrible drug days.

erin said...

I'm glad they are memories and no longer reality!