Panic. Feverishly squirming in a seat aboard this metro headed to the courthouse in downtown from West Seattle. Paranoid that everyone on this bus knows that I’ve been up all night smoking PCP, suspicious that there may be a monster in the midst. I can’t stop chewing my nails and if I keep this up I’m going to remove my fingers all together. Breathe. I step off the bus without paying the fare, the driver calls me a useless prick but this is the least of my worries. I’m five hours late for a hearing. I’ve been on probation three years now for various reasons. The latest charge is: Felony taking motor vehicle, eluding the police and getting caught with a bag of heroin. That was back in July. I was supposed to be here at 9am. I am supposed to be clean, but I’m not and couldn’t get out of that filthy apartment on time. I’m never on time. This is a curse. Homelessness and drug addiction go hand in hand and here I am throwing bottles at the world.
The judge takes one look at me and locks me up for wasting the courts time. Violation. She knows I’m a fuck up. She’s known this for years now. Judge Inveen has been presiding over my illustrious career as a drug addict/car thief/ junkie fuck up since 1995. She’s seen and heard every excuse in the book and I was not fooling her again. What’s that old adage? “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” What happens when I fool you twenty times?
I woke up this morning grateful. It’s been fifteen years since I plied myself with any drink or any drugs. Fifteen years since I’ve fallen down drunk, or put a needle into my arm, or shit my pants after a month-long bender consuming acid and cocaine like candy apples at a fair. I woke up this morning with my four-year-old son tapping me on the forehead asking to watch Spiderman. Asking his father, whom he’s never seen in the pits of despair, never seen withdrawing from the world, never seen hopeless and strung out. Simply asking to watch his favorite superhero sling webs around the city catching bad guys. I’m grateful that I get to experience this way of living. I am more grateful than I can even describe.
When I think about that seventeen year old kid, homeless and strung out, fighting every day to survive in a harsh world that has forgotten him, I am reminded that there are still people out there, boys and girls who still struggle with the seemingly insurmountable hopelessness of drug addiction. I am reminded of the reality that could still be my life. I could be in prison, or some fucked up institution or even worse… Dead.
I’m reminded every day that this treasurable time we have on earth is too diminutive, it’s much too precious to squander living in the selfish and fucked up way in which I had grown accustomed to so many years ago. I hug my son every morning before I take him to pre-school and tell him that I love him more than anything. I tell him that he is my favorite creation, that he’s the best piece of art I have ever received. Sometimes he looks at me like I am crazy, but someday he’ll understand.
I panic sometimes thinking of how this life I get the privilege to live, almost never was. How close I came to becoming a shitty statistic the consequences of my own terrible actions. But I am always reassured that if I stay the course, if I make the conscious choice every day to stay sober, well, the sky is the limit and I can live any adventure I choose and leave a legacy that I am proud of.
Thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last decade and a half. Thank you all a million times.
All my love William
*Photo 1999, taken by the county jail after the cops beat me up*