Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"IT HAD GOTTEN PRETTY BAD, MAN"

Back in 1997 I was out in my driveway washing the car one morning. My wife had left me, the house was being foreclosed on, we had filed bankruptcy and I wasn’t working. I had no plan, no visible means of support, no prospects.
As I’m washing the car, I see a figure a block away, jogging down the street towards me. I can’t see his face, just his size, shape and the way he runs, and there is something familiar about this dude. The closer he gets, the more I am sure that it is an old friend of mine from High School.

Sure enough, as he approaches I can see his face,and its exactly who I thought it was. He see's me now, and there is that moment of recognition, and he stops for a chat.
We exchange the usual stuff, what have you been doing, how are you, etcetera. We hadn’t seen each other in about 20 years. I tell him the particulars of my situation, the separation, the foreclosure, the bankruptcy. He tells me that he has quit using dope, and found a new way to live.

“It had gotten pretty bad, man” he tells me.

He has about 6 months clean. He has been attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly to stay clean.
“You should come!” he says. He looks me in the eye, then up and down. He can tell I’m using. I have that vacuous look in my eye, I’m fidgeting like crazy and slurring my speech. I have all the symptoms and affectations that come with being a dope fiend. Because even though I wouldn’t admit it, I AM a dope fiend.
“You should come to a meeting” he says again “”We meet at 6 O’Clock up on Brown Trail. You never have to do any dope again Steve.”

I remember looking at him like he was nuts, and saying: “Aw man, stop doing dope? You got to be kidding me. Man, I’m going through a divorce, a separation, a bankruptcy and a foreclosure. I have no job. I have too much bad shit going on here to even think about not doing any dope. Maybe when I get all this other crap settled, I can think about getting clean.”

“Ok dude, whatever” he said, and off down the street he jogged his clean no dope black ass away.

It would be another 11 years before I got clean. I would go from divorce foreclosure and bankruptcy to living in a burned out trailer and giving up entirely. And it would take the State of Texas stepping into my life 6 years ago today to get me to a meeting, and to accept what he told me that day in 1997. “Any addict can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live.”

Funny, it was 17 years ago I saw him that day on the street.
I still see him regular, down at the group.
A friend sent me a message this morning, “Happy Six Years Birthday” she said.
Us dope addicts, we have two birthdays, one is the belly button birthday, and the other is when we get clean and get to start our life up again.
I’d forgotten all about it. I take that as a good sign, maybe.
Happy birthday to me!


Here we are back in High School during Chemistry Class.


3 comments:

Steven Nicolle said...

That was awesome! Congrats!

Steven Nicolle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martijn said...

Happy birthday & birthday, Steve and thanks for the fab story.