Contains adult content: Drug use, death
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The first time my cousin Holly died, I was sitting in my new apartment. I turned off all the lights and drank a 40 oz of beer myself. I knew she was all right, I knew they had resuscitated her, but, I also knew this wasn’t the end. I remembered when she told me that she had started to use heroin. I asked her if she still did and she said “No.” That time in her life had passed and she wanted to make good decisions for now. I believed her. Not because I really did trust in what she was saying but because I wanted to. I promised myself that I would never put myself in that position. That, was the summer of 1998, I was nineteen.
By the time I was twenty, I was living the nightlife in NY. My apartment was a dump, I was living in the ghetto, working and going to school full time and frankly I just wanted to escape. At first I was just going to clubs, excited that I could get in even though I didn’t have an ID. That changed after a few weeks when I was introduced to cocaine. At first I declined but my curiosity got the best of me and inside the bathroom stall I took my first taste of what would become my drug of choice. It was different from what I expected, it didn’t burn, I didn’t sneeze, and instead there was just a metallic aftertaste that seeped into the back of my throat every time I sniffed. The way it made me feel was what made me fall in love. I felt like a rock star, like I was the most beautiful girl in the club, I was sociable, a great dancer, I went home with numbers and free vials every night. I even managed to stay on top of my classes and work. Life, was, good.
Five months later that would all change. I got a slip from one of my teachers saying that if I missed another class I’d flunk. I was appalled; I had done all the work. Why was he acting this way? Later in the evening over dinner with a friend, she laid it out to me. I had missed a few important events and my friends and teachers were just plain tired of my erratic behavior. I swore that evening that when I went out that evening it would be the last time. In a way, it was. I was on fire, with ten rum and cokes in my system and a vial of coke to myself. I danced my way into oblivion only to find myself in the middle of Sixth Avenue with a guy I barely know spooning coke into a straw and up my nose. Cars whizzed by us as we tried to walk the straight yellow line. He asked me to come home with him; I declined swearing I could do it myself. I hopped in a cab and danced my way home from the backseat. In a hopped up state I told the cab driver to stop a block away from house and walked down the street, my mind playing the movie of my life over and over. I sat on the sidewalk and played with the street cats, I ran down the rest of the block until I got to my apartment and fell up the stairs. I literally dragged myself to the door and into my bed where I danced some more, moving my arms frantically around while the beats from the club played in my head. My heart was pounding, I was sweating, and I was trying to sleep. I started to realize this was turning into a nightmare.
I felt nauseous, my heart was racing, and I was having trouble getting out of my bed. I managed to crawl to the bathroom before crashing to the ground. I started to throw up and managed to lift myself up to the toilet. I lay there face pressed to the side of the seat and then a small red trickle into the toilet. I touched my face; my nose was a red sticky mess. When I tilted my head back I started to choke. All I could do was keep my head tilted down. I fell to the floor and started to black out. I’m not sure how long I was on the floor for, but I know that I prayed. I prayed that I wouldn’t die and that my parents wouldn’t have to deal with another addict. I was a mess of blood, tears and vomit. All I wanted was to just go to sleep and I knew that was the one thing I couldn’t do. I knew the outcome. I thought of Holly, is this what she went through? Once again I swore that if I lived through this then I would change my life for good.
I was blacking out, I could see my vision blurring and fading the way an old black and white television would, my vision condensing into one small dot only to disappear. I could hear noises faintly in the background. I could only take tiny breaths.
SPLASH! I opened my eyes and started to shake. I looked around, my vision still blurred but I could make out my housemate hovering over me trying to shake me awake. I was in the bathtub covered in vomit and blood. I looked around for a moment.
“Ah, Kate what have you done?” He shook his head before turning the shower on.
I looked up at him wide eyed and scared. I threw up again.
He ran into the kitchen and got me some water.
I drank it and he filled it up again. He made me drink glass after glass until I threw up again.
“It’ll get it out of your system.”
I sat there for a moment, not sure how long I had passed out for. “Whatever you do, just don’t call an ambulance.”
He held my face and checked my eyes. “They’re not as dilated anymore. You should be okay.”
“Don’t thank me. You’re the one that will be cleaning up the mess later.”
“I breathe in. The stench of vomit is repulsive. “Okay, I’m just going to lie in my own filth for a while.”
I kept my word. After that night I never touched coke again. It wasn’t easy, I had to leave friends and lovers behind and start fresh. I became addicted to making good art and I forgot about drugs, until I was twenty-two. I was visiting my family and friends in Ma. I got the phone call; Holly was dead. She had overdosed on heroin. I walked around the house in a daze; I sat in the corner of my bedroom and imagined what it must have been like for her. Her last words were, “This doesn’t feel right.” She died in a park, alone on Thanksgiving. I cried for her, she was my best friend. That night my dreams were dark.
The next few months I walked around in a daze. I couldn’t produce art, I could barely write an article or a story. I just wanted to be with her. I spent hours at her grave bringing her flowers, reading by the grave, and talking to her. As it turned out this was to be one of the most beneficial times of my life. My own experiences started to gain perspective. I was becoming stronger and I vowed that I would make something of my life, not only for me but for her also. I took my wrong turns and put them into my work, I started to write again.
Since then I’ve turned myself around, made a career. Sometimes in bed I wonder why she was taken and I wasn’t. She was talented and beautiful. When she walked into a room, she shined. I wanted her to be remembered; I started to write about her. As I wrote it felt as though she was right in the room with me. I felt a surge of energy that I had never felt before. I lit candles in her honor and prayed that she was safe. Then something beautiful happened. The stories I was writing were getting great feedback. Teenagers and young adults were finding similarities from Holly and my experiences. They wrote me letters telling me they didn’t feel alone. I was helping people to understand that drugs were not the answers to their problems.
In the greater scheme of things I know Holly would be happy. The one thing she wanted in the world was to be remembered and through these writing not only was she remembered but she was also helping out another human being. Through my own experiences I came to understand Holly and through her death I came to understand myself. The circle of life continues.
"In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space, and I see no point in exploring areas that have already been thoroughly surveyed."
William S. Burroughs