By Brian C. Earle
Tonight, outside of room #358, I decided to go balls to the walls. I needed to FEEL my addiction. I NEEDED the crazy. I needed the demons, and the angels, and the child like behaviors.
Sitting in my car, I was ready. I pumped myself up for something new. I anticipated a rip roaring time. I could not have been more wrong.
I walked into that room, and other than Chuck E Cheese’s, this was my worst nightmare. I listened as Ralph talked about his addictions at this NA meeting I had just walked into. I slouched and realized I may have some issues I need to talk about. BUT, I took pictures instead.
I took pictures of Ralph as he explained his alcohol abuse. Ralph was more than willing to own up to the fact that he used to beat his kids while in a drunken stupor. I captured his sadness. I captured lost memories through his glossy eyes. I saw pain in his arms as they dropped to the podium.
It was Sally’s turn. I stepped up and took photos of the 22 year old. She explained to the others that she lost her kids due to meth abuse.
I continued on and captured sadness and misery. I went to the bathroom and proceeded with my own misery. I returned and took photo after photo of these downtrodden souls.
I cried with them and realized that I, soon, must face my own demons. But, at that moment, I didn’t want to battle with my demons. I longed for them and invited them into my world.
The group leader asked me if I’d like to speak. I nodded, said a quiet “thank you,” and left the room.
I fell asleep alone and confused in the bath tub.
Best Western Plus
I was beginning to unravel again. I knew, however, that I MUST complete my 30 day adventure. I drove from St. Louis to Springfield at high speeds. Damn the cops! I was out of my head and cocaine actually dripped out of my nose. My sweaty right foot slipped off the pedal. I struggled to lift it back up. I finally made it just before 10pm and was greeted at the front desk by Tom. Tom was a nice man, but the fucker handed me the key to room #5008.
I walked to the car, gathered my bags, and climbed the five stories. I sat, mind you, out in the open and snorted several large, thick lines on the concrete. I was on all fours like a dog. I was creeped out as the nearby hooker opened her door for the John. My eyes flashed at the sight of the cops next to McDonald’s. I had to get in-and fast!
I entered room #5008 and the madness, paranoia, and confusion continued. I had entered a psych ward. I first witnessed a naked man yelling, “I’m Jesus!” I watched a young woman clutching her head yelling, “NO! NOT NOW! LEAVE ME ALONE!” A Native American woman in the corner exclaimed, “you know! If you EVER kill anyone! I WON’T be your friend…ANY…MORE!” The painter in the middle of the room quietly explained to me, “you know, my paintings are going to be worth millions some day.” I believed him.
I walked around. I saw people shuffling. I saw people playing cards, and gentleman staring at the ceiling. And you know what? I captured every detail on film.
I fell asleep in Tammy’s bed…scared.
Tonight I found myself getting fearful of my addiction. The fun was now starting to run out and I am scared. Due to extreme paranoia, I traded my car earlier today just outside of New Orleans. I felt the heat and needed a change.
Despite my confusion, I reached into the back and grabbed my lovely powdery treat. I’ve come to embrace it…good…or…bad. It has become a staple in my life. I was ready for what was behind room #348.
I walked in and witnessed 20+ teenage junkies shooting up and nodding off. They were sprawled about everywhere. They laid back, they were curled up, and they held up walls. I felt sad. I felt disgusted, but decided not to judge.
I felt bad about reaching for my camera, but did it anyway. I loaded that sucker with black and white film and took pictures of misery. I got close and captured track marks. I stood 10 feet from a teenager standing against a wall with a needle sticking out of his arm. I took his photo. “Fuck the guilt,” I said and pushed on. A girl, maybe 14 had dried up blood on her forearm. A kid I decided to call Ray, was shooting junk in between his toes in the bathroom. I bent down, looked him in the eyes, raised my eyebrows, and raised my shoulders. He gave me the go ahead. I proceeded. I watched “Tony” shoot up his girlfriend “Deborah.” I continued until my sadness was unbearable.
I found a nice dark corner, curled up in the fetal position, and fell asleep.