At Peace


Seven Stars

Serenity Stars

I have gotten to make peace with some of the old haunts from seven years ago in interesting ways.

On Friday, when I was with Joan, we ran some errands before  heading off to the MOMA.  One of the stops was to the Walgreens on 24th and Potrero.  It was the Walgreens down the block from where I hit bottom on 25th and Potrero.

The Walgreens were I bought many a pack of Marlboro Light 100s in a box.  The Walgreens were I bought a lot of kleenex and Claritin, although I was not addressing allergies.

Although, come to think of it I was.  I just did not realize it at the time.

The Walgreens were I would wear my sunglasses inside the store because I could not handle the fluorescents on my eyes after being up for three or four days in a row.  The Walgreens were I bought a lot of Coca Cola in 1 liter bottles to go along with my kleenex and cigarettes.

I can remember how daunting it was to leave the house and walk to that store.  To simply get the few things I needed and get back to the house.  It would take me hours, truly, hours, to work up the courage to go from my room in the house to the Walgreens.  I am beyond grateful that I can go in and out of any Walgreens now and I don’t buy cigarettes or Coke.

One of my last purchases at that store while I still lived in that house, which was only through the month of February 2011, was a pack of hotdogs, a bottle of ketchup, a bag of white bread buns, a jar of pickle relish, a pack of cheddar cheese, a box of Drumstick ice cream cones, a liter of Coke, and a pack of cigarettes.

Disgusting.  But it got me through that 24 hour period.

Early on, I ate the weirdest shit.  I remember once being on the 33 coming back from the Mission and I literally had to get off the bus at 16th and Potrero to buy food from the McDonalds.  I got a double quarter pounder with cheese meal, supersized, with a Coke and a McChicken sandwich.

Apparently my body was craving nitrates.  I am pretty sure that some of the cocaine I had been doing was cut with laxative or baby powder, occasionally what appeared to be kerosene or some sort of petrol derivative, but then I began to suspect that it really was being laced with nitrates because that’s what my body craved.

And sugar.  My god the amount of sugar I ate.  I put on  75 lbs so fast it made my head spin.  I had so many empty pints of Hagen Daz in the garbage can, I actually took out the garbage to cover my embarrassment.  I don’t think I ever had worried about the clink of empties in the can, but the rattle of Hagen Daz pint ice cream containers, well, that bothered me.

My favorite flavor was a specialty selection that was German Chocolate Cake.  But I would eat anything that resembled ice cream.

I remember the skin on my thighs felt tight because I put on weight so fast.  Rebecca would tell me to shut up and eat the ice cream when I complained.  She was right, so I did just that.

Thank God, that’s no longer my solution.

Today I had a gloriously lovely little lunch at South Park Cafe.  I had an organic greens Cobb salad, and apple, and a cup of coffee.  I had just come from Ross K. Jones’ studio on Townsend between 2nd and 3rd.  He tattooed my seven stars for me. (I updated my Gravatar with the picture, but for what ever reason I can’t rotate the pix, so I’m on my side….oops, me no good with the technology, no).

It was a pleasure to sit in his studio.  He has a light hand and the music was great and the conversation pleasant.  In fact, Ross may have the best “bedside” manner of any tattooist I have been too.  And his flash is gorgeous.  His style is American Vintage.  It is a distinctly different from Barnaby’s style, my main tattoo artist, but he worked the stars in really well with the current work I have and I love them.

His studio was one block away from where the mortgage firm used to be, I walked past the building, looked up at the bank of windows and smiled.  I don’t ever have to go through that again.  I felt like I was revisiting the end days of a bygone era and replacing them with a new chapter, a new book of revelations and hopes and dreams.

Then to go to South Park Cafe and eat lunch when all I used to do was get a coffee from them and scurry out the door to sit in the park and nurse my aching head with cigarettes and what am I going to do with myself chatter.  Well, it was soothing and joyful and serene.

Today was glorious San Francisco weather.  It was sunny and bright and so was I.  To sit in that cafe with my new tattoo tenderly reminding me that I am a brand new woman while looking out at the park and the trees and really seeing the leaves against the blue sky and the green of the grass, it was stunning.

I went window shopping downtown and wandered in and out of the malls and Macy’s and Nordestrom’s, and did not buy a thing!  Then took the N-Judah up to Noe Valley.  As the train reached the top of Dolores Park I remembered the day I had been drawn to climb up that hill, seven years ago.

I smoked one of the last cigarettes in my pack and looked out at the view of down town San Francisco.  I was broken and humbled and I had called my best friend for help.  I had me some hopes that she would fly me back to Wisconsin and put me up at her home or put me through rehab.  That was not what happened.

Thank God.

I actually did not want to leave San Francisco, but I did not know how I was going to stay.  No job.  I had resigned that morning.  I sent an e-mail into my boss Alex and told him I had a drug problem and that I was seeking treatment and I was effectively quitting.  I did not go into work that day.  I just sent the e-mail.

I had spent the last of my money on cigarettes and ice cream.  But I had not used and I had no plans on using.  I was desperate and hopeless and sad and broken.  I asked to stay put.  I asked to stay in San Francisco.  I asked for a chance.

And I got it.

I was given a reprieve and I don’t know why and I don’t care and why is not a spiritual question anyhow.

That view from the top of Dolores Park brought it all full circle for me.  I was given my out and I am at peace.  A kind of peace and serenity I had no idea was achievable.

And the crazy thing?

I hear it just keeps getting better.

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