Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Remember That Time

*Disclaimer: This story is not necessarily about me...*
"...upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like
million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again-
sparkling and broken. But I didn't really mind it because I knew that it
takes getting everything you ever wanted and then losing it to know what
true freedom is."
From "Ride", Lana del Rey

The Time I Almost Got Shot at a Meth House
Do you ever have one of those moments when you realize that everything you thought you knew about the world is dead wrong? See, I used to live in this cozy world where I always felt safe. I believed people truly never meant to hurt other people. I hadn't met anyone truly suffering from addiction. After Mexico, I had never met anyone who grew up truly poor or in fucked up environments. If I did, I wasn't aware of it. Mostly, I didn't know the lengths other human beings will go through to get a fix of their addiction, and I did not know the lengths that the people providing illicit substances will go to evade capture or avoid suspicion.
For some inexplicable reason (or sheer stupidity), I had never seen drugs as a violent thing.
Now, I know better.
Rewind to a blazing hot day mid-July. I was not yet tampering with or taking any drugs. My only addiction at the time was to people. I craved company. I could hardly fall asleep when I was alone. I was crying a lot. So, I did what I had to do to escape from being alone. I quickly inserted myself into a new group of friends.
These were people that I knew, day or night, if I needed to "get away", vent, have a sleepover, stay for a few days, cry, laugh, whatever- they were there. I knocked on a lot of doors that summer, looking for a shoulder to cry on, someone to lean on, someone to laugh with...and with them, I had finally found just that. I knew some of them did drugs, but I didn't care. I didn't judge. We were all dealing with very ugly realities. I understood the desire to escape more than anything, even if I wasn't partaking...yet.
"When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I had
been living- they asked me why. But theres no use in talking to people who
have a home, they have no idea what its like to seek safety in other
people, for home to be wherever you lied you head."
Ride, Lana del Rey
It came as no surprise when I decided to drive across town to rescue my friend Jude from what I thought was just a socially-awkward situation. I didn't understand why Jude suddenly seemed so intent on leaving his friend Tom's house, but I was happy to help. There was an unspoken agreement, or understanding. I knew he would offer a certain drug in exchange for my gas. I fully intended to politely refuse, and just hang out there with him a while.
So, I get to Tom's house. It seemed to be a safe area, quiet neighborhood. I was introduced to Tom the tattoo artist. While Jude was gathering his things, I followed Tom to his room to see sketches or pictures of some of his work. I still had no idea he made most of these sketches while he was in prison. As the dim room came into focus, two beautiful, tall, blond women walked out of the adjoining bathroom. They both had bright smiles, but Lisa was a lot more bubbly and friendly. We were talking up a storm while Tom showed off his drawings.
 Jude was ready, so I made my way back to the front door as Tom mentioned how he desperately needed a ride to his sister's house. It really wasn't out of the way, so I agreed to drive him after I dropped Jude off.
I knew that in this group of friends, a simple favor like that could earn a lot of trust points. Every one of us seemed to have a hard time trusting people, and all for different reasons. After we dropped off Jude at his place, Tom directed me to a shady neighborhood. We pulled up to a house that had a massive pile of broken cabinets and shelves out front. It looked deserted.
"Should I come with you?"
"No...uh...you should definitely stay in the car. I'll try to be quick!"
I didn't stop to think that maybe the reason I should stay in the car was for my safety. I assumed it was because I stuck out like a sore thumb in those neighborhoods. People start conversations, and it takes a long time to leave. It was upwards of 115 degrees Fahrenheit  that day, I was low on gas, and did not own a functional cellphone at the time. The A/C stopped cooling the car within 5 minutes, I was worried about running out of gas. I turned the engine off and tried to sit there with the window down, to no avail. It was just so God-damned hot! I could feel sweat, everywhere. I got out of the car. There was a small tree nearby, so I pushed some of the broken pieces of wood out of the way and stood under it. That's when I really started looking at the houses. Some had the windows boarded up... one house looked like it had been shot at recently. A shiver of fear ran down my spine. We needed to leave.
By this point, about a half hour had passed and Tom was really stretching this favor. I figured he got caught up talking to these people. I couldn't text him to tell him to wrap it up, so I approached the front door and knocked. No answer.
I walked around the side of the house. There were some old broken cars obstructing my view, but I could see the back gate was open. I soundlessly made my way up the drive. I could hear some sounds from the back, so I squeaked out a "Hey!"
"Hello? Is my friend Tom back there? We need to go."
That's when I heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked and loaded.
"Get back in your car, NOW!" said a raspy, yet shrill, disembodied voice.
I ran back to the car and locked the doors. At that moment, I had stopped noticing the heat or the sweat dripping into my eyes. I had attracted attention. There were a couple of what could only be described as derelicts watching me from one of the houses with the boarded windows. It was at that moment that I remembered that my car had recently been tagged. There was some shit spray painted on one side.
I don't know who the idiots were that tagged my car were, and I don't know what all their stupid shitty graffiti meant. All I knew at that moment was that I was clearly in a neighborhood where gangs were real and cohesive, and I had a giant target on the side of my car. Great. I was probably about to die. I was wearing a really cute sundress.I had lost a lot of weight. I had done my hair that day. My sunglasses were from Germany. It all just seemed so wrong. What was I doing here? What would they say on the news when they found my body? Would anyone even care? Would they say I deserved it?
I so clearly did not belong in that world, at that moment.
I was trying to make friends, to find my people, yet I almost got shot for a social faux pas.
Tom returned to the car a few minutes later. He seemed shaken up, and he apologized before he asked me if I wanted any of the crystal meth he had just picked up. He would even "hook it up" for me.
"How do we get back to your place?" was all I said.
He managed to lighten the mood on the drive back. We were jamming out to the radio. I was being compared to Miley Cyrus. It was great. He mentioned that he would give me a "free tattoo" voucher in exchange for my help that day. I couldn't argue with that. I could have died, so at least I would get a free tattoo out of the ordeal! We were almost at his apartment when I asked him why he wasn't allowed to drive.
His answer?
He had been charged with rape and kidnapping.
Yes, you read right. Rape and Kidnapping. What?
I mean, allegedly he didn't actually commit the rape or kidnapping. He wasn't convicted for it. But there were some other felonies as well which resulted in a suspended license. At that point I was hoping to drop him off without getting raped or kidnapped. I was really thirsty though, and when we got to his house he said I had to come in for water, and that free tattoo voucher. I couldn't argue. I had sweat so much waiting for him I would pass out before I reached the gas station at that point. So, I obliged.
I closed the door behind me as we walked into his apartment. As my eyes adjusted the dim lighting I could make out the scene in front of me. One girl appeared to be sleeping, although she was very sweaty.
Lisa, the bubbly woman from earlier, seemed to be working on something. There was a tray in front of her and a syringe in her hand....
She said, "you should join us", right before I watched her stick the syringe in her arm. All signs of the lively woman were extinguished from her gaze in that moment, as the heroin hit her bloodstream.
I turned to Tom and simply said, "So...yeah...I'm going to want some of that stuff you just picked up."
I had lost my innocence that day, and I knew it was never coming back.

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