I’m on my way to a shoe repair shop in Grand Central that someone at work recommended, Eddie’s, all the way at the back by Track 40. There’s a flower stand right next to Eddie’s, and as I come around the corner, I get hit in the face with the sickly sweet scent of roses. My tongue flies to the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat tenses, waiting, and I try not to swallow, bracing for the phantom drip.
We used to call it “Roses in January,” even in the summer, because of the artificial smell, the sick-sweet yet caustic odor that meant an anticipated high, a gnawing feeling, a skitterish feeling, a feeling like flying above whatever problems you had, and flying fast. That smell meant something important to be suffered for, like a martyr enjoying the sacrifice. I saw no problem, no addiction; I was surrounded by friends who were all doing it too. These were loyal friends, people I worked with, neighbors: good people.
We, these people and I, made a ritual out of the whole thing. We would plant ourselves on the sofa, with my coffee table at our knees. We had a mirror; we did short lines, short meaning maybe one inch, let it sink in, take effect. Then do another, open your eyes a little more. Sometimes the stuff was brownish, tan, yellow, slightly green, or just white. Maybe there’d be little flecks in it. Sometimes it was just me doing it, alone.
Oh, I knew the motorcycle gang the Pagans made it in the Pine Barrens. Who knows what they put into it? We’d heard the stories about the battery acid, the Ajax. Yet I put it up my nose, down my throat, and into my body it went, coursing through my blood, made my blood course faster. It passed through all of my organs, affected each and every sense. My eyesight seemed clearer, indeed, my pupils huge, my eyes practically bulging, trying to see everything. I would jump at the slightest noise, my hearing positively bionic, but taste and smell was gone, my sense of touch was also dulled, hands and fingers shook, sweaty, my body reverberated with the escalated pounding of my heart; I could see it thump in my stomach. My tongue thrashed inside my mouth, not tasting the dry harsh taste that surely was there, instead pushing and ramming against all sides of my mouth like an animal trying to get out of a cage. I willingly swallowed that bitter drip.
That is when I wasn’t talking. Everyone talks a lot on speed. When you are alone, you talk to yourself, or if that seems “weird,” you think, and what you would have said bounces around inside your head and ricochets around on the inside of your mouth with your working tongue, so that your cheeks look like a cat in a bag: twitching and moving erratically.
I liked to clean a lot when I did speed. Arrange magazines on the coffee table at right angles, no- diagonally! According to date or theme? The stash box goes HERE, not there, and wipe out the ashtray. Never mind that you’ve just lit another cigarette. If something is out of place, it is life or death, details are everything.
I also liked to put on makeup. It once took me a full three and a half hours from shower to door cause I was obsessed, shading my eyes with several different shades of brown, mauve and grey that no one would notice in the dimly lit club I was heading for, separating any lashes with a pin that mascara might have stuck together, mixing lipsticks and glosses with the precision of a landscape painter trying to match the blue of the sky, and knowing it will be impossible to replicate.
They don’t really sell accessories for crank like they do for pot or coke do they? The fancy bongs, the hand painted stones for joint holding, the roach clips everyone had on key chains, or how about the tiny yellow brown vials with the black plastic caps, the ones with the tiny telescoping spoon built in to them, sterling silver blades to chop and line it and tubes to snort it up. None of that for speed, meth, crank. We used to come up with all sorts of paraphernalia ourselves, your mind and your hands were all working at warp speed any way, why not just fashion something for yourself to use?
Like MacGyver, the guy on TV who could make a bomb out of duct tape and a rubber band, we devised all kinds of stuff. Once we emptied out a nasal spray bottle, and filled it with meth and a bit of water, so we could do it at the mall, at work, wherever and not attract attention. An empty makeup container was perfect to hold the blade, the tiny baggie, a straw and it had its own mirror. McDonald’s had the best straws, they were thick, good quality, (you could wash them!) and were very wide around. I learned how to reseal the Baggies to keep it fresh, pressing it in the pages of a book and touching a match to the end sticking out to melt the plastic shut.
So I get my shoes, and as is usual for Eddie’s, they have done a good job. I head past the high chairs where two men sit getting shoe shines, one reading a newspaper, the other staring into space. As I walk out, I take a huge gulp of air, a diver leaving the high board, anticipating the approaching slap of the water. I hold my breath all the way past the flower stand, where people are lingering, admiring and paying for flowers, and not minding the smell of the roses at all.
Comments from original website:
lightpainter @ 2003-09-27 15:37 said:
Why aren`t you writing novels? (maybe you are?) This stream-of-consciousness writing with incredible detail is so real that I feel like I`m there doing lines with you.
shuggy @ 2003-09-27 15:39 said:
WOW!! great story, I had that frantic feeling just now while reading it..
alwayslookaround @ 2003-09-27 15:42 said:
i agree with lightpainter. your stories are defenitely book worthy. very real descriptions of your experiences. they often bring back memories of my own similar experiences, which i could never put in words as craftfully as you do.
ronni @ 2003-09-27 15:55 said:
Roses and tulips, history. Like minds, though the stories diverge...
luluvision @ 2003-09-27 15:56 said:
what a story history! I felt like I was doing lines with you too! thanks for sharing this!
artofgold @ 2003-09-27 16:02 said:
I agree with lightpainter. You have amazing writing skills. I was hanging on every word! Thanks for sharing! :)
zeke @ 2003-09-27 16:09 said:
What powerful writing. Brings back a few memories from younger, more foolish days that I hadn`t thought of in years. You realy nailed that strange mixture of nostalgia and horror. Great job.
jungalero @ 2003-09-27 16:22 said:
Reading this was a horrifying 5 minutes....yet so beautifully written I`d do it again. Just like a drug addict.
garydann @ 2003-09-27 16:49 said:
I was 6 months oldyou f-ing rule Ingrid! Lightpainter is right ...u should write novels.
eliahu @ 2003-11-08 18:01 said:
very compelling reading. hash was my drug of choice in those days, although i did write my college thesis in one mad speed-fuelled session. needless to say i only scraped through with a pass.
super8mm @ 2003-12-08 13:41 said:
I think it was Frank Zappa once said that "speed will turn you into your parents" that was enough to keep me away...but this description gave me the jangles just reading it.
jimmy10019 @ 2003-12-28 10:02 said:
I have never seen this page of yours; I cannot thank you enough for leading me hear. This is amazing. I always think I am so alone in this and I never would have guessed this about you and all I can say is this is most encouraging to me. Powerful.
sandman44 @ 2003-12-28 19:00 said:
This should be posted on every wall in every sholl and workplace in the world. How very powerful!
nihihiro @ 2004-01-19 15:45 said:
Great Mix or story and foto. I enjoyed your work.