I talk about my time on the street because I have little else to draw from when I ponder the advice “write what you know”


Let me tell you why I talk about my time on the street.

I am tired of being talked about, but up until now, no one wanted to revisit the fall from grace

I am not the only-well educated person to get addicted to a substance, to get incarcerated, to lose everything. But I am one of the only people who will talk about it. The people I have known want to put the whole thing behind them. They remarry so they can change their last name or they stop/start using their maiden name. I can’t blame them for wanting to get back to the lives they had before they went downhill. I think the timing of my troubles has a lot to do with my willingness to share. You see, I started using when I met some people in a Manhattan bar who smoked something out of a glass tube. Wow, I breathed to myself, I have really hit the big time now. I had literally never seen a drug in real life. I had never smoked a cigarette, never even held a lighter. All at once I had the chance to see a whole new world, and just when my old world had betrayed me. You see, it was the holidays and yet again I was the recipient of the pity invitation from a kind soul who has the holiday at her place and invites the single people with nowhere to go. I had made the assumption that if I was successful that success would solve my problems. Why did I link graduating from an ivy league university to being loved? It seems like such absurd reasoning now. But at the time I fully expected to have a group of people that welcomed me and would not start any holiday without me. I thought I would be one of those people who others miss. Instead, I saw myself at the loser’s table, just like 7th grade, when the people who did not belong to a group sat at the lunch table filled with random singles. If any of us had had social skills maybe we could have bonded to each other. Instead, we sat as far away from each other at lunch as if we could disassociate ourselves from those most like us. Years later, nothing had changed. I was at a bar, by myself, still, and I was beyond self pity, I was enraged. I saw the introduction of drugs as a chance, an opportunity to try something totally different than the path I was travelling alone. What the hell, I decided to do that drug, whatever it was. Who cares anyway? When my teaching job resumed after the holidays I would totally quit. That’s when the trouble began. I had yet to build a life for myself, so I had nothing to return to after my release from prison. The most interesting thing I had to offer was my stories from life on the street. That’s why I tell them. That’s why I hope to figure out how to monetize them.

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