Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Paybacks are NOT a b*tch, sometimes they're a sandwich.

So, today I went to speak to another High School and it went AWESOME! Its really cool talking to these kids about the whole addiction thing and giving them the opportunity to ask real questions and being able to give them real answers. I showed the photographs of me when I was a drinker (yuckie) and the vanity angle is always a good way to kind of drive the whole point home.

So, several of the guys at the ranch have been diagnosed with H1N1 virus. This is some scary stuff! Its been pretty mild, but we are operating a fall festival with over 3000 people attending each week and so we’re being exposed to the germs of slew of gross little kids almost daily.

I am really lucky that I work in the kitchen because my hands are always clean and I am in an environment where I am not dealing with the public. Nice for me.

I’m just about completed with education component– and I’ve begun my job search – wish me luck. I spent the day on Tuesday in town with my friend Brian and Monday night, my buddy Curtis celebrated HIS birthday by taking ME out to Subway for a sandwich. You may not remember, but on MY birthday, my parents gave me some money and I took Curtis out for a hamburger. (See the blog entry ‘The $10 Burger’)

Curtis is amazingly awesome. We call him ‘Cletus’ because he’s from a small farming town in Eastern Colorado (sometimes we call his ‘Cloitus’ – yea, we’re not always nice). Anyway, he is from a small town in Eastern Colorado and one thing I love about him is that he gets visibly excited when he reads classic literature. He stays up at night reading the works of Twain or Chaucer or Edgar Allen Poe and many times he will wake me up from a deep sleep to share a line of beautiful writing with me. Sometimes I will shout out line from a piece of literature when we pass each other on the road on our bikes and he will finish it:

“When I was young and deft with folly,” I will call to him,
“I fell in love with melancholy,” he will whimsically call back

Then the rest of the guys call us fruitcakes.

(this is from Poe, it’s a statement about how young people can quickly fall into the clutches of alcohol addiction)

He is also the embodiment of the typical country kid – he tells us of tales growing up in this small town before he was grabbed by meth. He tells wonderful tales of killing rabbits with a sling shot, of his friends in 5th grade who used to climb to the top of the town’s grain elevator and shit off the edge – watching as a pile of poop would form 5 stories below. Oh how they would laugh. Small town humor I guess.

Many small towns are saturated with methamphetamines. They are cheap to produce and cheap to deliver, and for whatever reason, small town kids seem to be stricken with the meth habit more than those of bigger cities.

Curtis prides himself on his dental habits, he doesn’t have meth mouth so common with addicts (about a third of the guys on the ranch have no teeth and are in the process of getting dentures at the ranch’s expense – part of the ‘new life’)

He tells of these innocent (disgusting, yet innocent) experiences before he started using meth and he tried to avoid it, but found it to be too impossible. His stories change from the innocent high flying poop story to more sinister events like ‘tweak-f**king a pregnant girl for three hours because he had dope and she wanted it’.

His reflection includes the crazy stories like how he would get high on duster (the aerosol cleaner people use to clean computer keyboards) and put on his headphones and BLAST his music at all hours of the night – jamming, dancing, music on the highest volume….. only to discover about 30 minutes into his solo jam session that he failed to actually plug the earphones in to the stereo and was instead in his frenzied state with the stereo on full volume, no earphones; his poor parents on the other side of the door pounding, trying to get his attention and having no luck – at 2:30am.

The defining moment for Curtis before he decided that he needed help came last year. He had always spent a lot of time with his grandparents, as many kids do that are from a small town. Much like my nieces and nephews, the grandparents are extensions of their own parents. I can’t imagine it any other way, it works and its great.

Curtis had left his town for a few months to rent a house in another town about 2 hours away. He would sell meth to pay his bills and rarely, if ever, left the apartment. He was absent for about 9 months. One afternoon he came home to his town and he stopped at his grandparents home, his grandfather was working in the garage and saw Curtis (who, I might add, must have looked tragically bad after being in a dark apartment with little food or sunlight or hygiene for 9 months). His grandfather summoned Curtis to the garage and was genuinely interested in Curtis’s life, and what he’s been up to. Curtis remembers slingshotting a stone at the sign that hung from the mailbox that read ‘Taylor’. His parents had one just like it – it was kind of a family tradition. Small town family.

Curtis recounts this story with a fascinating fondness in his eyes – he recounts it and inevitably looks past the person he’s telling the story to, the part of him that loves good literature is immediately taken back to that moment when his grandfather, a friendly face, wanted to engage with him.

But after a two hour drive, Curtis had other things on his mind. He hurried his grandfather, answered as quickly as he could each question (which was rapidly feeling like an interrogation to the drug addict), and eventually left to the upstairs bathroom where he HAD to inject himself with the drug which would help him get through the visit.

He recalls looking out that window and watching his grandfather – the man who wanted to take some moments to reconnect with Curtis – plowing a field on the tractor. Next, Curtis clearly remembers looking down at the needle sticking out of his arm. He giggled a little bit that he was doping up in his grandparents bathroom. His grandfather had decided to get back to work, accepting the humiliation of an insignificant old man who was no longer important to his grandson, his grandson who had found a new love, a new confidant – a new family member he could inject right into his arm.

Curtis left the home, tweaked out, headed to a friends home and spent the next two days on a meth binge. When he sobered up enough to head to his parent’s home he was greeted with an empty home – just a note on the table from his mother:

“Please call when you are in your right mind, its very important.”

So, he called – expecting to hear a lecture about his binge. His mother patiently listened as he chattered on with a million excuses about where he was and why he hadn’t been around. His mother calmly replied, “Your papa died two nights ago, he had a heart attack, we are making the arrangements now.”

And with that, it hit him –the last time he would speak to his beloved grandfather was cut short by his addiction calling to him. And, in this, he tells of his number one regret with the whole thing. You see, when he got to his grandparents home to be with his family, his grandmother gave him a box. In the box was a mailbox sign that said ‘Taylor’ – Curtis’s grandfather had carved him a mailbox sign just like his, and his father’s – that he had hoped Curtis would hang from HIS mailbox in his new home. The grandfather was never able to present it to Curtis.

That sign currently hangs on Curtis’s bedpost.

We didn’t mention any of this when we had our Subway sandwich, its likely we may never talk about it again. But I know about it, and he once told me that he feels much better that at least ONE person knows how sorry he is.
I do. And, I decided to tell this story in part for him, for his birthday, as a gift, because it might make him feel a lot better if a lot of people know that he is very sorry. Happy Birthday, Cletus.

Peace all, have a good weekend.

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