Friday, 29 December 2006

where it all began...

It seems like it happened about a hundred years ago. That is how much my life has changed. But in fact, it has barely been a couple of years. I went to Laila’s house and sat on her bedroom floor- it was a small room- just enough space for a single bed and a desk at the other end by the only window. When you entered the room, you had to stand straight up against the wall to your left so the door could close. You really had to inhale if you were large or it would not be able to close- that was how small it was. Cosy, is the polite word us English would give it.
Anyway, I sat on the floor while she sat on her bed fashioning a foil tube around a biro pen. At her desk there was a computer chair but it was covered in clothes and books which I didn’t want to move in order to sit there. I observed her as she done it, for future reference.
“There” she said, handing me the tube, “Now,”
She ripped off a bit of foil, I would say about 8 inches by 8 inches and handed it to me
“Burn it off, just like me. It is bad to smoke if off foil. You have to try and get most of the bad chemicals off it first. Otherwise you might get pleurisy , so I’ve heard,”
I watched as she took the piece of foil in one hand, and with her lighter, flicked the ignition and drove the flame up and down the width and length. To get rid of the chemicals, so she said. But that was the last thing on my mind.
I had wanted to try heroin since I was about 12. I know that might sound crazy, especially when I tell you this next bit. When I was 9 my cousin Jimmy came to stay with us from Bradford to get off heroin. He had bin on it since he was 13 (he is now 30, but at the time was 24) and my fathers sister, my aunt, decided the best thing was to get him away from Bradford. So he came to stay with us. It worked, I suppose, for a while. Indeed, for the whole 9 months he was with us he never used. While he was here he used to speak to me and warn me off it. I think he sensed the same attitude in me that he had.
“Never try heroin,” he would warn, “You are so strong, and everyone tells you that. But nobody is stronger than heroin. It feels beautiful. When you take it, you feel like God himself has wrapped you up in cotton wool and nothing else matters. But soon after, that feeling goes. And you need it just to feel yourself. Except, you never feel yourself. It fools you into thinking it is good for you, and you need it, and you can’t live without it. It’s awful,”
I heard that and I thought maybe I should try it. From the age of twelve I had done cocaine, mushrooms, cannabis, speed, LSD… and none of them felt good to me. None of them were my drugs. None of them. So after my Dad had committed suicide, after having to spend years in therapy to get rid of the image of his decomposed, maggot-eaten corpse that lay in his flat for 2 weeks in the brutally hot summer of 2001, I teamed up with one of the girls I met at the YPPS. That being the ‘Young Persons Psychiatric Service’. I met her in Group Therapy. There was no obvious connection, we didn’t even talk. Though in the group, I was gently coaxed into talking about why I was dependant on alcohol and why I felt the need to take other drugs. When we left, after an hour, I was happily listening to my music when I felt a persons presence. I turned and it was her, Laila, just getting off her bike. We exchanged a hello, how did the group feel, where do you live? Turned out, we lived but a few minutes from each other. Five at the most. She didn’t take long, about a minute before she said “Look, I was wondering, do you know where you could get some cocaine?”. Of course I did but I told her how I would feel guilty, how we were at therapy together to try and get better. But anyway, we ended up going to the pub where I drank myself stupid and she didn’t. That was the beginning of our friendship. A very destructive one. A couple of months later we got heroin. Cut to the bedroom. She had been taking it for a couple of weeks on top of me, so unbeknown to her at the time, she was already on the road to addiction. Another couple of days and she could not live without it.
After the minor preparations were complete, she got up and picked up something from the top of the wardrobe, and began fiddling with it. “Here, hold it out carefully. Make a trench,”.
“What?” I replied, clueless,
“Give it here, I’ll do it,” she sighed, annoyed. Annoyed because she was desperate to take hers, I know now. I watched as she made a fold on the side of the foil and curved the two edges either side to indeed, make a trench. “Now,” she said sternly, “Hold it bloody bloody still,”. And I did. I held it as she tipped on these grains of light brown powder. She picked my tube up from where I had left it on the floor and placed it carefully between my lips. I took my lighter and got ready for her instructions.
“Light the flame and carefully put it under the powder. It will burn fast so make sure it’s a bit away. Tilt the foil away so it can run and you can chase the smoke more easily. Remember, that’s what you have to do to take it; you have to inhale the smoke through that tube. Otherwise, it won’t work,”
I sort of hesitated so without even having to ask, especially since I had the tube in my mouth still, which was making saliva drip down my chin, she took her foil and showed me how to do it. I felt reassured as it was so simple. So I positioned the tube over the grains, lit the lighter and kept it a safe distance away and put it under the powder. I caught a bit of it but when she shrieked I let the flame go out and pulled back to look at what I had done. Indeed there was a few stray bits of smoke going up but I had got as much as a first-timer could and I knew this, because as I inhaled, as was told, I could feel it going down and could certainly taste it.
“OH MY GOD!” Laila screamed jumping on her bed, “Look at the fucking wastage Naomi, Look at the fucking wastage!”
Quickly she put her tube in her mouth and followed the smoke rising in the air, trying desperately to suck it in so the sacred swirls didn’t just disappear into thin air.
“For Gods Sake!” she spat at me, making me feel really bad.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I know you said it would burn fast but I didn’t realise like that, with so much smoke,”
“But I told you!”
“I know, Laila. I won’t do it again, it was my first time, I’m sorry,”
“But…” she bellowed

“I’m sorry!” I screamed back, furious that she was getting so uptight. It was my money so she didn’t lose anything, so I didn’t understand her problem.

Believe me I was sorry. Very bloody sorry.


I.:.S.:. said...

I'm finding this all compelling reading

But I think I will stop now. I don't like thinking about it. I always knew I would take heroin as well, from very early on. It was the big bad one, and I just knew somehow. But it has been a good long while now. Possibly helped by the fact I'm living in a country where heroin quite simply isn't available, even if coke is a few pounds a gramme and a glass full of brandy is 50p.

Sorry to be condescending, but you write competently enough for someone who has a big blank from 13 onwards.