Seven years ago today, I was sitting on the balcony of a friend's apartment in Mesa, looking out into Pioneer Park and wondering what the fuck I was going to do with my life. It was almost peaceful to look out at the green grass and mature trees but the occasional flicker of light as someone hit their crack pipe kind of ruined it. I had just woken up and my morning rituals were playing out as usual. Cough for about 40 minutes. Brush my teeth and try to get that nasty taste to go away. It never did. Stare at myself in the bathroom mirror for a while, admiring how thin I'd gotten. I wouldn't stare for too long though. Sooner or later I would start focusing on my eyes that once sparkled but were now sunken in with dark circles under them. No. I couldn't stare too long.
I went out to the balcony to meditate for a bit. I'd had epiphanies on these balconies on multiple occasions. One time I even saw Jesus Christ himself walking across the water of the apartment's swimming pool. I wasn't sure how long I'd been asleep for. Maybe a couple of days. My New Year's resolution to quit doing drugs had ended with me leaving Ray in a fit of rage, feeling sorry for myself and the shitty life that I had been dealt and smoking an 8 ball of crystal meth by myself in the back bedroom of a crackhouse. I somehow made it back to Abraham's where he offered me a joint to calm myself as I finally came down and tucked me into bed.
Waking up after a meth binge was always the same. The motivation of the day was always the same. How am I going to get high again? I almost always worked. I would jump from job to job rather quickly though. It never took long for companies to realize I was an addict. Sometimes they noticed the scars on my arms first. Usually punctuality was the issue though. I quickly smoked up any money I made in the call centers. I couldn't make it from paycheck to paycheck. I thought I was better than all the other drug addicts though. I thought I had ethics and morals. I thought I was smarter and less addicted because I wasn't a thief or a whore. Maybe I was. I doubt it. Regardless, I refused to steal or prostitute for drugs. After all, I was better than the rest of the lot, right? I had my standards.
At first, I applied for credit cards. Lots of them. $300 here and $750 there. I would take out as much as I could in cash and then use the rest of the credit to make purchases which I would sell to all my Mexican neighbors. All the paisas said I was so smart. "¡Ayyyy guerita, que lista eres!" I thought I was pretty smart too. Then the credit card companies caught on and started denying my applications. That didn't take very long. This is when I moved onto payday loans. That got me through another month, tops. A title loan was next. 3 more weeks of bliss. Eventually I had tapped out on all of my loan options and was left with an insatiable addiction for methamphetamines and the ridiculous idea that somehow, I could have it all. I just hadn't figured it out yet.
I smoked my last bowl while having a movie marathon with my drug dealer. We had just finished Belly and were 30 minutes into Requiem for a Dream when it came to me. I should sell crack. Duh. He didn't like to sell crack because he didn't like to deal with crackheads. They come around too often he said. They try to pay with loose change he said. They're too unpredictable he said. He preferred dealing with meth and heroin and pot and pharmaceuticals. Not crack. What if you send the crackheads my way? He thought it was a horrible idea. He rambled on for a bit. Something about not tainting my innocence. Something about being too good for this business. I wasn't hearing it.
It was a brilliant plan. I didn't smoke crack so there was no way I would use up all my product. If we would have just finished the movie, none of this would have happened. But this is the way my life played out. Selling crack kept me high for another few months. I didn't have to work in the call centers anymore either, so I didn't have to worry about schedules or any other nonsense. I could stay high for as long as I wanted. I would usually stay up for about 3 days and then sleep for a day. I was living the good life. I was so high that I never thought about my family or what happened with Chris or really anything at all. I did what I wanted and ate what I wanted and smoked what I wanted and slept with who I wanted.
Eventually my dealer's apartment got raided. I was actually watching over his place while he was out for the night so the narcs knew of our connection and searched my place too. I had just woken up that morning and had sold everything I had the night before. There was a bong with residue of meth on my coffee table though so they decided to hold me. I spent the night crouching on the sidewalk with zip-ties around my wrists but was released with no charges. This wasn't the first time this happened to me. I don't know why I was never charged with anything. Even the times that I was taken down to the city jail, I was left to walk to "freedom." Is this the grace of God? Is this because the cops were trying to concentrate on the big fish, not people who accept pennies for a dime bag of crack? I'll never know. As I made my way back to my apartment I knew that this was it. There were no more loan options or entrepreneurial ideas or pyramid schemes that could keep me high. I toyed with the idea sobriety. That didn't sound very fun though and I was all about fun. No. I decided I would ride this out. Something would come to me.
I picked up another job at a call center and decided to move far, far away with my new Sinaloan boyfriend that was fresh off the line. We moved 2 miles South on Mesa Drive. He didn't do drugs when I met him. Shortly after our move he asked if he could take a hit from my pipe. He just wanted to know what it felt like. That was pretty much the end with Antonio. I never dated men who did drugs. Not after Chris. Never again. He went off the deep end after that and I can't help but feel responsible. He left in a paranoid fit but I decided to stay in the apartment and I'm glad I did because this is where I would eventually meet my husband. A man who would question my morals and didn't tell me I was smart or beautiful every 5 seconds. A man who would tell me I was a fucking idiot for doing drugs and that if I thought I was special in some way then I was even more stupid than he had originally thought. I wanted him to move in almost immediately.
There was something about him. I tried to hide my addiction. I would wait until he was fast asleep before I crept out to the living room to get high. I thought I was pretty convincing. I would smoke bowl after bowl, hiding behind the couch, while contemplating sobriety and making To Do lists and painting my nails. I would slip into bed an hour or so before I thought he would wake up and sing songs to myself in my head and make plans to be a famous something or other. This is meth. On the weekends when he didn't work and was home all day, I would tell him that my stomach hurt and then go into the bathroom, place a towel along the crack of the door, smoke a bowl, and then turn on the fan to get rid of the evidence. I kept my bong inside of a tampon box.
Things started to unravel when he found a pipe inside the pocket of a coat hanging in my closet. I told him it was my brothers. I thought he bought the story. I may not have been a thief or a whore, but I sure was a liar. Standards baby. I don't have a brother. This was one of the many confessions that I made the night before we got married. You mean to tell me that you have 5 sisters and no brothers? Yeah. Sorry. Next confession.
Things started to go downhill after he found that pipe. In the days that followed he tore the house apart. He noticed the blackened Q-tips in the trash can and asked me what the fuck was wrong with my ears. I told him I had a rare disease that darkened my earwax. No shit. A broken wire hanger found on the floor of my closet with weird brown goo on the end? I told him I had used it to unclog the garbage disposal. He found empty seals behind the drinking glasses in the kitchen cabinet. I told him that they had contained a special medicine that you sprinkle on your food to help you lose weight. That lie wasn't so far-fetched but the gig was up. A few days later his brother followed me to my drug dealer's house by Pioneer Park and told him that either I was a hooker or a drug addict. Neither option sat well with him.
This brings us full circle. Christmas had passed and instead of taking ownership for my actions and realizing that I was really just missing Sam and embarrassed of my behavior, I decided to blame it all on Ray. I decided that it was his fault that I couldn't stop using and that I had to leave him if I was ever going to get better. I called an old customer that I knew had a truck and packed all of my things and as much furniture as possible and went back to Pioneer Park in tears. I was coming down hard when I asked Abraham if I could move in with him. I knew he was in love with me and I took advantage of that. I promised him that I was done with Ray and with drugs and that this year would be different. I tiptoed out of the house while he was sleeping that night and spent his hard earned grocery money on a twenty and a lottery ticket. I won $150 that night and the rest is history.
This is when I bought that last, notorious, 8 ball and had no where to smoke it. I ran into some guy in the park who said he knew where we could go. I think he was from Sonora. He took me back to his apartment where he smoked pot while I smoked glass and wrote a poem dedicated to my now husband about how sorry I was and how fucked up I was and how I wished it could've been different. It was very dramatic and alternated line by line from Spanish to English while still rhyming. Epic. I wrote it over and over so many times that I almost used an entire composition book. I finally opted for a perfect cursive version, scrawled beautifully in red ink with strategically placed hearts.
It was so epic that he still has the copy to this day, worn from folding and unfolding it countless times.
I can't remember much more from that night and I'm not sure how I got back to Abraham's. He was probably out looking for me but I can't be sure. When I woke up the next day, or probably a couple of days later, something was different. My heart felt different. After I went through my regular morning routine, something compelled me to go out on the balcony. Something compelled me to meditate. This particular day was different. I would usually focus, rather quickly, on my next high, but on this day, I questioned that motivation. I don't know why. I may never know, but this is the day when everything changed.
I came in from the balcony some time after, walked into the kitchen and grabbed a Sharpie from the junk drawer. I marched right up to the wall calendar featuring a gaudy image of the Virgin Mary, covered in glitter and jewels, and made a big fat X over January 12th, 2006.
This was going to be the first day of the rest of my life.