I just sit back and reminisce about when I used to hang out in this park in my twenties and thirties. There was so much promise in my future. I look at all these kids and wonder what’s going through their minds. I wonder what was going through my mind when I was their age.
I’m 55 now but I didn’t get sober until I was 36. That’s when I hit absolute rock bottom, got clean and started living a second life. After the struggles I endured I could have never imagined my life would turn out so wonderful…
I went to Towson University on a scholarship as a defensive back. While I was in college I started taking all sorts of drugs, mostly weed and alcohol. I looked up to athletes like Darryl Strawberry and Lawrence Taylor and Doc Gooden and they were all doing it, so I did it to fit in. I never thought it would become an obsession. It wasn't a part of my makeup, but it got bigger than me.
During my junior year I got into a disagreement with my coach and stopped playing football. Without my athletic scholarship I couldn’t afford tuition, so I joined the National Guard and went through boot camp and training and all that. I received educational assistance and used it to successfully graduate from college.
After college I worked in retail in Maryland and then transferred up to New York. During this whole time I was a major drug user and started getting into the harder stuff like cocaine, but I was still able to function. Eventually my brother got into retail too and we went into business together. We did a show for the American designer collection at The Parsons School of Design. We worked with big designers: Calvin Klein…Donna Karan…you name it. The event was a big deal and I remember crying from disbelief and happiness while the show was happening. I thought we had made it.
After the show there was inventory that had to be sent back to the manufacturer. My job was to take it back to the city, drop it off at one vendor and get an $800 check from another vendor. But before I did any of this I got high. My intention was not to take the check but between returning the clothes to one vendor and cashing the check I lost the check. I back tracked and found the envelope on the street, but it had been opened and the check was gone.
That was it for me. I took the inventory I was supposed to return and sold it on the streets for thousands of dollars. I disappeared onto the streets of New York City for the next six months. No one in my family knew where I was or what had happened to me.
I met a lady named Michelle who had been out there a year before me. She was a good person who had been hardened by life. She had two beautiful kids but also an abusive husband. She lost everything and caught the virus (AIDS) while she was out on the streets. I saw her after she had been beat up bad the previous night.
We ended up becoming friends and just getting high together, we did a ton of heroine. We slept on the corner of 6th Street and Avenue C…
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