Making a home for myself, in a new place, is something I have always enjoyed. I was making enough money to get things I needed and grateful not having to worry about furniture or appliances. My home came equipped with a nice color television, cable and HBO! My main goal was to get clothing because most of what I had was too small, too old or just plain not suitable, carried around for several years especially not having worn any of it for the two years I was in prison. I was glad for the expenses of the place and able to put some money in savings.
As an addict you are fully aware of what it is you do which causes you to relapse. If you fall, you are aware of the why? The problem is, many of us fool ourselves into thinking we can get as close to the source of our problems without falling. Stupid thinking, but it is what occurs. We’ll visit those same places, see those same people and use excuses as: visiting the past, seeing how strong we are now, wondering if thing have chance since then and one of my own personal favorites, going back for those left behind. At first, we don’t go back with the actual intent of picking up the old habit but the final result is the same—failure. For me, it was seeking out prostitutes.
I wouldn’t want to have been seen trolling through old neighborhoods looking for prostitutes for fear of being seen especially on the Sabbath, a Friday night, so I waited until the sun set and began exploring the possibilities on Saturday night. The buses were running which made it even more convenient. I was walking around in the City of Poughkeepsie, in those areas frequented and known to have an assortment of prostitutes but to my dismay, the area was completely changed since I walked these streets. I certainly didn’t see anyone I recognized nor was recognized by anyone. The streets were clean from the rift raft and clutter of drug dealers, prostitutes and drag queens. There was a sigh of relief in not finding a “strawberry” to provide a little hands-on relief, so I went back home. What I did was began the process of setting myself up for a fall because for me, and others, we’re going to go back to those places and we’re gonna find whatever it is we knew was once there. The places might have changed as well as the players but it’s still out there, we just need to spend time and effort to find the new game in town.
About a month after having moved into my new place I decided to make that trip which had been first tried and failed. In my heart, I knew if I did find a woman who would welcome my goal “and” if she was a smoker I would venture to relive that drug trip again. The closer to the city I traveled the old feelings of a queasy and upset stomach, dry mouth, constant swallowing and nervous excitability started within me. I considered the fact I hadn’t smoked since being arrested more than two years ago and recognized I “did not” have to do this. I was “healed” from my addiction to Crack and “if” I fell back into active addiction, I could not say I didn’t know about it or was not warned. I very well knew, by experience, what would be the end result: losing my job probably by stealing from the cash register, lose my home because lack of monies to support myself, violation of probation which would send me back to prison, but only after they found me. How would they find me? In a state of poor hygiene, soiled clothes, wild hair, red eyes, loss of weight and by either turning myself in for help or another attempt at suicide. This is what I had to look forward to if I found myself again smoking Crack.
I walked around town for what must have been at least an hour trying to find a “hook-up”. I did not see anyone buying or selling. I saw what appeared to be a prostitute and made an attempt to speak with her. She told me she’d been looking for someone to make a purchase, too, and if she ran into anyone she would let me know. How would that be possible? As soon as she “copped” she was headed to wherever it is she would smoke and wouldn’t think about me unless in her journey passed me. It’s called being on a “mission”. It is the one time an addict is ever focused on anything. We know it is out there but it is our only mission in life to find it. I might have mentioned it before and if I didn’t, let me say it now, the thrill of drugs is the actual hunt of locating it, buying it after making sure it is what it is supposed to be, getting back to the place where we’re going to use it without being bothered by any legal sources. I will not say, no one wants to be caught with it in their possession because in the last stages of addiction, before the process of recovery, you are hoping and praying you would be stopped from getting to the place where you will smoke it. If not a place of recovery, we’ll take jail as the beginning point to start changing our lives from the depressing and disgusting life of addiction.
I eventually saw a woman who acted the same way I remembered women caught in addition for a long time. They’re dressed as best they are capable, filthy but trying to be somewhat attractive, to pick up someone. Hair greasy from not having been washed. If they’re white, bad skin usually with open sores. That certain walk which makes you think they’re struggling with some kind of itch in their crotch. Heads whipping back and forth trying not to miss a possible customers, dealers and watching out for the police. Constant licking lips to keep a moist mouth from the pain of cracks and skin missing, if not burned, from smoking a Crack pipe which was too small. But I found her. I motioned for her to stop and to come to me, and she did, and I propositioned her about wanting to make a purchase and if she wanted we could go somewhere and smoke it. She used my phone to make a phone call and off we started walking in the direction of my downfall.
Those steps began to get slower and heavier and I wasn’t sure it was due to the several hours of walking as much as it was I was headed toward a path I already was all too familiar. I wondered why I was taking this chance again, first of all, to be seen making a purchase and I’m on probation. There is nothing I could tell a police officer if I was stopped or even try to explain why I was not in my home living a life I should be. What could I possibly say for the reason I was where I was, with who I was with? But that didn’t stop the steady pace bringing me closer to the drug or getting into the car she recognized someone bringing us closer to that place.
When we approached the apartment, having been in this life before, I told her I had to go with my money. It’s never a good idea if they don’t know you and if you’re desperate enough, you’ll give up the money and hope there isn’t a back door to this place where she can slip out with your money or drugs. You hope the fact you mentioned you’re going to be smoking together would be enough initiative for her to return. Counting the seconds which turn in to minutes doesn’t help. It’s not you’re impatient with the woman and why it is taking so long to come back as much as it is wanting to take that first pull of the smoke into your lungs. You’re hoping since you are now past the point of no return, you are not going to be stopped by the police, be seen by your probation officer who happened to be in the neighborhood at the time, or run into someone from the job or church, or anyone you know. You just want to have the drug in your hand and be making it away from this spot for fear the police had it under surveillance and ready to make a bust while you’re on the threshold of the doorstep.
Finally she comes out and we head back to the car. I always take my drugs into my own hands thinking the courier held it long enough and it is mine. When I got the bag and saw how small it was I just knew I was beat. There was no way my fifty dollars could have purchased such a small amount. And I told her so. While the driver was at the ATM getting money to purchase services from her, I told her I didn’t like what she did and knew there was no way this was all there was. She assured me it was. To prove it, she told me when the guy returned to the car, she’d get fifty dollars from him and buy the bag from me. Now she was making me into a drug dealer! Something I NEVER wanted to be arrested for. If I ever were to be arrested for drugs, in any way, it would be for possession for recreational use and never for selling it to someone. That is big jail time and I never wanted a record with that. Seeing this as “the way of escape the Lord makes for you” I took it. I got my money back, got out the car and began making my way home.
I considered how close I came to destroying my life. Since the first time I spent a significant amount of time in prison I looked forward loading a stem full of Crack, melted to get the full potency of the resin and take a “blast” as great if not more than the one I had in Philadelphia. I wanted to send myself out of this world—literally. It didn’t take too long before making another attempt.
A week later I was thinking about trying again. I remembered the woman used my phone and checked the calls made and found the one she called. I called the number and introduced myself to a woman who answered and explained to her what happened. She was comfortable to give me her street-name and made arrangements to meet her to make a purchase. I knew, this time, I would go through my attempt smoking Crack again. I kept the Crack pipe I purchased from the last time, noting how easily it was to obtain one. Easier than it had been when I was smoking back in the 90’s. When I met “Hot Chocolate”, a young black woman, probably in her late 30’s, attractive, she reminded me of the woman I met in the first program I attended, who believed as I did about meetings not providing the answer we were searching for in wanting to rid ourselves from our addiction. Hot Chocolate agreed to take me back to my hotel where we would conduct our deal, not wanting to be in a public setting which was fine with me, and I would be able to take that first hit faster than having to wait for another bus to convey me home. I felt awkward having this woman with me as we ascended the steps to my room. The manager was sitting there and looked strangely at us. I wondered if he’d seen her before, knew her and suspected why I was with her. I made certain when we finished our business to escort her back down the stairs to her car and made it appear to be a normal quick visit, not one of sex or anything else out of place. Hot Chocolate gave me the same sized bag as the woman tried to give me. It was then I had respect for the other woman. She hadn’t tried to cheat me after all. The amount of drugs was smaller for the higher price since I last bought in this area. I wished, then, I had done what I considered doing when I was in Puerto Rico and made a large purchase and figured out a way to transport it back to the States. My fear was getting caught by the “federales” and receiving “big time” in prison.
When Hot Chocolate left, I got out my “works” and what had been done hundreds of times before came back easily as I prepared the stem. I wondered what it would feel like to take a hit, should it be a small one first to test it or a big one? The amount given would not permit me to take the “big hit” I’d planned. I held the stem in my hand knowing I was returning back to the beginning point of where all of this has led me thus far, and going back would not be fun and could be fatal. I knew also I did not have to do this. I was making the decision to do so and just as easily, I could make the decision not to start it again. All of the memories of the pleasure this brought me outweighed the memories of the fears. I lit the lighter, put the stem to my lips and inhaled the vapor, and as they say in the streets, “It was on.”
Although the smoke was good, I could not enjoy it! I was too worried about loosing everything I worked for. I was worried I would go back to prison. I was worried of getting caught. The paranoia returned but had more of an impact than before because then I didn’t have anything—but that all changed now. I went through the routine of searching the room, checking the windows and walls and mirrors. I listened for scrapes and bumps and noises, the evidence someone was watching me. I imagined my probation officer showing up when I hadn’t seen him in this new place at all—yet. It was not fun. The drug was quickly finished and just like the past, I needed more. Had to have more. Going to get more!
I called Hot Chocolate and made arrangements for her to bring me a larger amount. If my mind was right, and it wasn’t, I would have somehow made it over to Newburgh, the place of my past and tried to secure more of the drug there, and I’m sure, cheaper. But, this was a good connection, one which would bring it to me and I would have it soon. Hot Chocolate never showed up! Although I wanted to hit the street to look for her or find another supplier, I also knew if I just sat down in my room, waited for this feeling to dissipate I would be in my “right mind”, soon, and can go on with my life. I did and I was grateful Hot Chocolate didn’t call me back. When she did call she told me something came up and wasn’t able to get to me. That was fine. My weekend was over and I certainly was not going to jeopardize my job, but I told her I would want to meet with her the following weekend, after payday, and would purchase more than before. I did!
That Friday afternoon I started blasting away. I was determined to reach the point where I was enjoying this smoke and not fearing it. By early Saturday morning I was finished smoking, looking bad, hadn’t slept, breath smelling foul, haven’t eaten or bathed when a knock on my door startled me. I answered it and in the doorway stood U.S. Probation Officer Pete who came by to check on me! When he showed me his badge my first glance was to check his hand. No cup! I was looking so bad, he thought he woke me and thankfully left as quickly as he arrived. Whew! That’s how close I came to blowing it all away. Whatever thoughts I had of securing more drugs for later use was gone. I didn’t want this anymore. I was tired to taking chances and didn’t want to have a probation experience like the one I had when I was in Cleveland, dodging and counting days after using to make sure drugs were out of my system. I wanted to satisfactorily complete it without this type of incident AND most importantly, I didn’t want to do this drug anymore. I didn’t want to have this proverbial “monkey” on my back and I knew I could have my sobriety back if I wanted it. If I wanted it. If I wanted it. And, I wanted it.
When I returned to my right mind, I deleted her calls, my calls and her number from my cellphone. She called me, once, and I explained what occurred and I did not want to live this way, anymore, and going to “reclaim” my life and leave this alone. She was glad to hear it. She’d been there before but only sold it to have money while she was preparing herself to get a position in nursing school. We wished each other well and I felt relieved I handled this situation as best as could be. What if I had done this in the very beginning? Not when I first met her but back in 1989 when I first started.
This was the last time I ever picked up. It was easy to be able to say I stopped using Crack when I was in prison because there was no Crack. I hadn’t been able to find any of the persons I knew in Puerto Rico and the language barrier prevented me from easy access. When I was released, I could have gone where I lived when separated from Mayra and looked for it but I was afraid to go into that housing project. Too many killings. So, I cannot claim my sobriety from this aspect. I can claim sobriety—now—because I have made the conscientious decision not to want to use Crack again because I asked God for healing. Often times it has been stated “relapse is a part of recovery”. This is true. We as “former” addicts will need to have the contrast made for us. When it is forced upon us, because of circumstances such as prison, by what it is we want and what we really want is often not made clear. It is in that instant, when we could have it again, but choose not to do so is when we have finally overcome addiction which plagues so many. What prevents me from using Crack cocaine today? It isn’t the fact I will lose my job, my home, my things, my life as much as it is I will be pulled away from the God I love, who has worked very hard to have me where I am today, Who’s hand I have seen in every aspect of my life during this experience. I asked Him for healing and He has “offered” it to me. Just as He has said in so many places in Scripture, He says it to me and others, who are listening,
“It is according to your faith, you are healed. Go, and sin no more…”
Even though at some point in your life, when you’ve decided not to live the way you’ve lived before, for example, in drug addiction; those things which you have done will continue to affect you no matter how hard you try to put the past behind you. I liken it when I share with people in discussing what it is like to be involved in drug addiction, it is like when you toss a pebble into a still lake and you see the rippling effect, eventually, although you cannot detect the ripple, movement is continuing…
I ate a piece of bread and biting down caused excruciating pain. I could tell using a mirror there was a gap where there shouldn’t be. Now when I ate hard foods, it was very uncomfortable especially when something was cold. Because I didn’t have dental insurance I suffered with this pain until it became too unbearable and digesting too many aspirin might have an adverse affect, I began searching for help. I noticed an ad in the local paper advertising a dentist who would take cash customers. I made an appointment and was glad to be seen.
I was under the impression when someone advertises willing to take cash, because of having no insurance, it meant also willing to work and pay in time. Boy was I wrong! This dentist wanted to do work on the tooth to save it costing me over fifteen hundred dollars! I decided I wanted it pulled instead. My mother saw to it our teeth were taken care of by regular visits to the dentist and in my case and that of my brother Kevin, even orthodontic work. After not having seen a dentist in fifteen years, the lack of attention during my drug usage and age, yet still he commented how beautiful my teeth were. So, it was a difficult decision for me to make to have a tooth pulled remembering how I had seen while incarcerated all these men with missing teeth and grateful to have had all of mine and in good working order. I didn’t want to have it pulled but I didn’t have money to have it fixed and I was in pain. The simplest most cost effective plan would have been to have it extracted. When the dentist told me the cost would be, more than three hundred dollars, I balked. I told him I didn’t have that much money in cash, about a tenth of that but would be willing to pay in time. I never seen such a display of unprofessionalism from someone but what was really hurt was my ego. My pride. For the first time in my life, I now experienced and felt what it was like to be poor, to not be able to receive services because before I worked for a great company with excellent benefits. Those days were in my past and I began to have a sense of what it was like for many others. How they must live with the pain because no matter how much it hurt, it was less than feeling the pain of humiliation. The dentist wrote me a prescription for antibiotics and pain but was so upset with me just left his office, and I don’t mean to go into another part of the facility but left through the front door, got into his car and drove away!
I was grateful to have the prescriptions but again was faced how much it would cost to have them filled. Again, with no insurance, I would have to pay everything myself and I was afraid I would never have enough. Totally humiliated I left his office and walked to make my way home. As I headed where I would be able to catch a bus, who should I hear calling my name but Hot Chocolate, in her car waiting at the light! I acknowledged her with a wave of my hand but did not want to give her the impression I wanted to speak with her. I was determined no matter how much pain I was in or how much depression I was now experiencing, I certainly didn’t need to turn to illegal pharmaceuticals, not anymore, not ever.
Robert, my other good friend, my brother, when I told him about my tooth made an appointment for me to see his dentist who gladly took me in, told me he would extract the tooth for half the cost of the other dentist and willing to work with me to have other work done, which I needed. Grateful for the opportunity, I have now been with him ever since and returned my mouth to a state of healthiness although additional teeth have had to be extracted, but thankfully in the back and not where easily seen like those guys I mentioned earlier in prison.
In Spring, I learned the rental rate for my room was going up from $145.00 to $195.00! When you considered tax, more than $200 weekly! That was not so bad until I learned it would increase again in several months when the tourist season begin. If it weren’t for the place being so convenient for me to get to work, by walking, and the stores, and when available, the bus did pass my home and job, I was too comfortable to consider moving. I had all the amenities I needed and plenty of space and didn’t even want to consider moving.
One of the other reasons for my staying put during the increases was the location was ideal and I didn’t have to worry about any sexual offender problems insofar as moving too close to schools or parks where children gathered. This bothered me. I hadn’t hurt any children and yet I had to be treated as someone who did. Everything would be questioned and my ability to move freely limited, as least during the probation period, so I decided to stay put. I was becoming comfortable living here, for one, IBM Poughkeepsie was close to me and I used their facility to do my exercising by walking. The first time I did it, it was very nostalgic to remember this place as the beginning of my permanent career with IBM. I went to the building where I first was hired and found it closed. As I walked around the building, I remembered many memories of what I did, beginning at the tender age of seventeen, all the friends I had and their faces and wondered where they were today. Although the building closed and empty, these walls were filled with memories of many people, but as in all aspects of life, one must continue no matter what the past held. It would take me an hour to walk the facility being able to get a good sweat as I walked briskly. I later purchased a digital camera and took pictures of my walk to keep the memories alive wherever life would take me if it should be away from this place. I often thought of the graciousness of God bringing me back, to have me go over the origins of my life, how He guided me and as the word given to me by Bro. Al when living in Hosanna Ministries in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1993, God “would bring me back to the place from which I was gathered…” would be fulfilled.
I wondered if never addicted to drugs how my life would have been. Would I still be with IBM today some thirty-one years later? Would I still be married to Louisa and living in LaGrange, the house paid for by now? What car or cars would I own today? The key question which usually brought me back to reality, would I be happy? I know I was happy now, although not having those shiny things which I spent a lot of time, effort and money to acquire and didn’t bring me happiness, I am able to admit to myself today, but how would things have turned out? I began to realize and accept that true happiness and fulfillment comes from God and not the things we acquire, not even relationships. It is from God. And my true purpose in life is not acquiring assets but gaining eternal life. Nothing matters more than being saved. So many times I acquired a few things only to leave them behind as my life moved forward this time knowing it wasn’t a downward spiral, after all, but an upward path I couldn’t detect at the time. I wasn’t making over a thousand a week but a mere less than half of that and yet I was happy. I lived in one room and not a home with thirteen, yet I was happy. I took the bus and not have a choice of cars and yet I was happy! I couldn’t explain it but I have learned to accept it and to be satisfied with whatever it is God has given to me—this time.
Mayra and I stayed in touch frequently by telephone as well as by Internet. It seemed our relationship, although separated by divorce, we were still close in heart. She came in April and shared a long weekend. I was so looking forward having her with me, to show her my life pre and after the drug addicted years. I took a bus, train, subway and then air-train to meet her at Kennedy Airport. It felt good to be back in the city, getting around, feeling free and truly experiencing my liberty. While headed there I had some time before meeting her and walked around the city a bit and had lunch at McDonalds. Her plane would get in late and I fell asleep waiting for her, although my anticipation was great. When she arrived, she looked beautiful. We embraced and kissed and a lot of memories flooded my heart. I remembered the way we parted several months ago at the airport in Puerto Rico. She rented a car and despite my probation and legal issues opted to drive. Getting behind the wheel felt good and I enjoyed the responsibility it entailed. When I got us to my hotel room, there was that awkward moment similar to the first time we spent in a hotel room when we met in 2000 at Fort Bragg. I wondered if I could put all the insecurities I experienced behind me and become intimate and affectionate. I wanted to. And I did.
It was nice introducing her to the people I’ve talked about and my friends get to know her. When it was time for her to travel back, there wasn’t a tear of sadness, regret and pain as before. There was a settledness and an establishment of friendship that would never die, and isn’t this the purpose of it all, after all?
One of the blessings during my probative experience, which I resisted at first, was undergoing therapy for sexual offenders as ordered by the Judge. I didn’t bring it up when I met my probation officer and since receiving paperwork from the probation office in Puerto Rico was very slow, it didn’t become an issue until July, eight months after I had been released. My first complaint was the referral the Middletown office had was with a woman whereas after having met Dr. Pando, I thought, I would be more comfortable talking with a man. I think a lot of it had to do with my issues with women in authority. When it was brought to my attention I would have to begin satisfying this court requirement, I decided to give it a try with an open mind.
Vail was located in Beacon, a middle-aged woman but later learned much older than I thought, in good shape although a bit thin for my taste and from all appearance seemed to have come from a life of addiction herself, more along the lines of alcoholism. To date, she never revealed her background but her discussion and knowledge about addiction indicated she was coming from an experiential background coupled with therapeutic. She was very warm and receptive and not demanding, which is something I could not take. Since Probation was not regular in their testing me for drug usage, it would be a common procedure for her to do so. I was comfortable with it at this point in my experience because I no longer had any desire to return to active addiction. I remembered my past experience with drug testing, when on probation in 1998 through 2000, and didn’t want to relive that bad and traumatic time of having to dodge the bullet of having a “hot” urine.
I made it clear, in the beginning, my issue is not drugs and I didn’t agree with the methodology of A.A./N.A./C.A. and would not attend their sessions if this was something she had in mind. Plus, although having a history of drug abuse, my seeing her was not because of drugs but because of an addiction to sex. She, not having had too much experience and certainly no credentials in this area, we determined we’d give our sessions a try and if I wasn’t satisfied would report it to my probation officer and seek some other venue for treatment. We determined, although I was not being treated for substance addiction, could we consider an addiction as an addiction whatever it’s form and look into my sexual addiction as an emotional one having the same characteristics as drug addiction? That seemed plausible to me and we began our time together, with me talking openly about my sexual history. I was amazed how easily I felt discussing it with her having resolved, within myself, to be honest, open and forthright. Certainly there was no physical attraction to this woman and I began to see her as someone to talk to, not necessarily as an authority figure over me. It was thought we should have been meeting at least once a week, but because of my work schedule, traveling constraints and in the beginning lack of things to talk about, moved it to two weeks of every month. Within two months, I felt this was a good thing and decided to get whatever I could out of these sessions by sharing whatever it was going on with me.
I had to confess to my probation officer, later, if I didn’t have her I didn’t think my probation experience would have gone as smoothly as it did. It was very helpful to have her to talk with, regardless of what she took back to my probation officer. I was tempted to use her to soften any concerns and avoid any problems with my probation officer but didn’t feel comfortable with this method since I decided to be open and honest with him as well. I didn’t want to use our sessions as a form of manipulation. Although not sexual offender specific, I was helped by having someone to talk to and she impressed me early on, after giving her a lot of reading from the material I prepared while in Guaynabo, and she remembered relevant parts of my history and our previous discussions. In a way she became a “friend”.
Would I consider staying with her after my probation ended? Probably not for two reasons: one, I didn’t want to pay for it and two, I really didn’t think it was all that necessary for me to maintain a normal life. This is not to undermine the time we had together during the probation experience. She just made it easier to cope with many issues I would have to face just released from prison and trying to assimilate into society, maintain my job and life and feel free from returning to bad behavior traits which are so easy to do.
Even though the rental rate of my unit increased again, I wasn’t too disturbed because I began receiving credit card application requests and was filling them out as fast as they arrived. I couldn’t believe how fortunate I was. Although I had my first one since my fall from grace just the day prior to being arrested in 2002, now, it seemed my credit had been repaired and I was not only able to acquire those cards with minimum amounts of credit but some major cards offering me thousands of dollars! If I was short of cash because of the increase in rent, I would satisfy my expenses by using those cards with the intention of paying them off once my rent returned to the original rate. In all, I received twenty credit cards, two of them from the same institution!
By the end of the year after learning my rental rate would not return to the original amount, my credit card bills mounting, I had to make a decision to relocate. This wasn’t going to be easy since I didn’t have sizable savings and although I had many credit cards, I was using them quite frequently to pay for things I needed for example, rent and phone bills, but as well as necessities like food, too. I was grateful having them but I needed to make a move to find somewhere to live where my rent was manageable and not the excessive amount now exceeding $1,100 per month from the $560 where it began.
It didn’t help either because of my legal situation. I had to be concerned where I was moving. I couldn’t move into someone’s home and expose them to police and probation officers. I had to consider the location and how close it would be to schools and other places where children gathered. This bothered me greatly. Had no time in my past had I physically touched any child and yet I was being treated as a high level offender. If I hadn’t the probation officers stopping by from time to time to see me, it would have been a bit easier to find suitable living quarters, but until such time, I had to choose carefully and still not having a car in an area where buses don’t run as frequently as they do in major cities I have lived, made it difficult.
By the beginning of 2006 I knew I couldn’t live here anymore. My income was not going to keep pace with rent as well as with my credit card payments and I needed to move. I began looking in the papers and inquiring with people on the job along with the problem of coming up with the first month’s rent along with security, it was too cost prohibitive for me to consider moving into a real apartment, although I found a place in the City of Poughkeepsie for about $640 a month, but just didn’t want to spend so much money up front using all the money I had in my credit cards, plus having to purchase furniture and I wasn’t too happy with the location. I bought drugs on this street many years ago, even an incident cheating someone giving them several ones rolled up instead of the amount they thought they were getting. While I was waiting for the landlord to show me the place, I saw people going into the back of the building next door and leaving a few minutes later, some of them were women who reminded me of the women I used to be in contact with years ago. I just didn’t feel comfortable moving here.
Although I hadn’t mentioned it now but will in more detail in the next chapter, I was now having to register as a sexual offender and designated by the court and didn’t want to have any problems where I lived, especially since this apartment building was directly behind an elementary school and where I would catch the bus near a recreation center. I hated having to always consider this now as an aspect of my life, but this was my new reality. It was a factor and I would just have to deal with it.
There were comparable rooms where I could live such as where I was living now but these were across the river and I would amass even more transportation costs having to get a taxi to convey me across the bridge everyday and I didn’t want to do that. I thought about the place where Don mentioned when I first came here, in fact, even drove by the place. It was the former home of a mutual acquaintance that had long since left and now subdivided with an extension with rooms available. The problem here was it was so far away from my job and I wasn’t certain how the bus ran and Sunday nights would be a problem because the bus didn’t run and I didn’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money using taxis. Later, after speaking with Vail about it, she mentioned the train which was about fifteen minutes walking distance from the house, so that made it a possibility. The same train station I came into that December night, a year ago, when I left Puerto Rico. I didn’t like the fact the store in town was very small and not what I had been accustomed but it was about the same distance in terms of walking and although the bus didn’t run as frequent it was something I had to consider. I procrastinated about calling the place although I knew in my heart this is where the Lord was leading me. Beacon. A city I once traversed quite frequently during my years of flashing. I didn’t think it would be a problem anymore and knew it was time to leave where I was and try living elsewhere.
When I saw the room, having met the landlady, I didn’t worry about the location of the room, as I used to be, concerned about the windows and if I would find it easy to expose myself or make it appear accidentally I was being observed. I felt comfortable that part of my life was over. I was more concerned about having a reasonable expense and being able to handle my bills. The weekly rate was $120 which was even better than originally where I was and hated the fact I waited as long as I did before moving. I could have saved more than the amount I owed in all my credit card debt! Although not having a bathroom in my room there were three close by and they were clean. A community kitchen with a stove and sink was nice. A laundry room just off the kitchen, not opened, was a consideration but there were several places to launder clothes in town. I liked not having to hide the fact I had a toaster/oven in the other place and here I got a microwave. There was a small refrigerator in the room larger than the other place, with a freezer compartment large enough for me to be able to have ice-cream. So, I took it.
I purchased several shelving units to accommodate my books and other things, a computer desk which fit nicely in a space between the shelving units and my bed, some bedding and I was pretty much ready to live in some comfort. Unfortunately there was no air conditioner and I was told I couldn’t have one so I got a fan which would suffice when the weather turned hot, reminding me of my time in Philadelphia and used a small 6-inch fan to keep me comfortable, just large enough to keep a breeze on my face. When the weather turned warm, in March, the room was too hot, I purchased a portable air conditioner I kept hidden from view and was able to maintain my room comfortably enough to sleep and not perspire. The room had cable for television which was nice because I was able to connect my computer to a high-speed cable connection. Yes, this would be just fine for the next year or two. Even though the room was smaller, I didn’t require much space and my living quarters satisfied the concerns of the U.S. Probation office and I was able to walk to my therapy sessions with Vail.
I had thoughts of walking across the nearby bridge which separated Beacon from Newburgh and what were the chances of my going across that bridge to return to a life of drug addiction? I knew my life changed but could I believe that in the face of temptation? Would I ever return to that infamous city of my drug addicted years where I spent the summer of 1991, living on the streets and hiding from family and friends, and where I made the first attempt on my life?