Sometimes I don’t remember what stories I’ve told here on my blog and which ones I’ve only told in meetings. I’d say stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it will already be posted by the time you know you’ve heard it before.
For a lot of people, they have that one moment when they knew it was over – when they absolutely couldn’t go on using one more minute. They will often refer to it as their moment of clarity. That’s not how sobriety came to me. There wasn’t one defining moment as much as there were several milli-moments that were more clarity-adjacent. It wasn’t until enough of them built up on top of one another that I was finally ready to surrender to the notion that I could not keep using successfully. Never mind that I hadn’t actually used drugs successfully in years, if ever.
One of those moments for me came this weekend in 2007 (I googled it so I know the actual date). The day before I started my outpatient program in June, I got an email letting me know that Paul van Dyk would be spinning in Central Park on Saturday August 17. This was an event that I looked forward to just about every summer. Some of my best NYC memories are of those outdoor concerts listening to PVD while dancing around on ecstasy.
I decided that, with about 80 of the maybe 200 dollars I had left to my name, I would buy two tickets to the concert as a reward for me being almost two month sober at the time of the concert. I don’t think I even gave a thought to the fact that I hadn’t stayed sober for even 24 hours outside of captivity yet. I deserved a reward.
As soon as I bought the tickets I thought about who should go with me. As luck would have it, that week a drug dealer friend of mine was coming from San Diego to NYC to set up some business. I vaguely recollect that he was there to take over the customers that I would no longer be helping. So as a thank you for taking over my sales area, I asked him if he wanted to come back in August and go to the concert with me. Of course, I wouldn’t be doing crystal but I’m sure we’ll have fun anyway I told him. Either he really liked PVD or he figured I’d be using crystal again by then because he said he’d love to. Great. See you in August.
So the summer goes on with me in outpatient rehab. I really was clean off crystal that whole time between starting the program and the day of the concert. Of course, I still was drinking (only beer) and smoking the occasional joint. I even did ecstasy once. And for reasons that are only really logical to a drug addict, I held onto a bottle of GHB that I had never used. Just in case.
So T shows up on Friday the 16th as planned. We hung out most of the night and he was actually really respectful about the crystal situation. He wasn’t doing it in front of me and he absolutely wasn’t going to give me any because, he said, I’d end up blaming him for me using and we wouldn’t be able to hang out anymore. OK. Sounds good to me.
We headed out to Central Park early in the day so we could lie out in the park with all the gay boys before the concert. On the subway, I opened my backpack and showed him the bottle I’d been saving. I can’t do crystal, but we can do this.” He was totally on board with that. Crackhead logic is a beautiful thing.
We stopped at a deli and got some red bull to pour it into. For those of you unfamiliar with GHB, I’m fairly sure the chemical makeup is equivalent to industrial strength floor wax stripping solvent. In fact, the stuff I had came from someone that had a license to buy the compound commercially for that type of activity. It’s pretty nasty stuff and you really want to kill the taste however you can. I once discovered that grape juice completely masked the taste of GHB. The only problem with that is it tasted like grape juice.
Anyway, we each did some as we got to the park to sunbathe. It had to be 90 degrees that day at least and I had red bull, but no water. After about 30 minutes I really wasn’t feeling anything, so I poured some more into the red bull. 20 minutes after that a little more. I think we ended up finishing the bottle (which theoretically should have been enough for the entire weekend and then some).
It was nearing 3 pm and I thought maybe it would be good to walk over the where the concert would be and check things out. We got about 100 yards from the entrance when I decided I had to sit down for a moment to compose myself. No sooner had I dropped to one knee when I started puking my guts up. Afterward, I tried to sit down to catch my breath. And again, violent vomiting. This went on for about seven go rounds. Try to sit (or get up) and vomit instead.
After the seventh time, I just blacked out. I was in the middle of the park in the middle of the day. There were people everywhere. There was nothing discreet about this scene. It in no way looked like I decided to lie down in the grass for a moment. It was completely tragic.
I came to about two-and-a-half hours later. I could hear music coming from the stage. I saw people filling the area where the concert was taking place. For about a minute I couldn’t even remember how I’d gotten there. Then I started looking around. Where the fuck was T? Did he really just leave me lying in the grass unconscious and go into the concert? Wow. That sucks.
Just then, I look up and see him stumbling toward me looking somewhat dazed. Where were you? Turns out he tried to go throw up in the bushes to be less obvious and ended up passing out in them instead. Pretty.
We were nothing if not determined though, so we decided to head into the concert and have a great time. That lasted about 30 minutes before we both were certain we would die if we didn’t go home and lie down immediately.
So, I’d spent almost half of all the money I had to my name and he had flown across the country so we could go to this concert that was the highlight of almost every summer I had lived in New York and instead of having a great time, we both almost overdosed and died in Central Park.
It was still ten days before I would actually put everything down and start doing what people told me, but the writing was beginning to become clear on the wall. If I couldn’t even do something I really, really loved without ruining it with drugs then probably my problem really was as bad as I was being told it was.