As I write this, my hands are trembling. It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this – two years, and 14 days to be exact. Last night, I relapsed.
My friend that I bought and shared two grams of cocaine with last night thought that my use of the dreaded “R” word was odd. We started using together in 2009, but took different paths from there. She was able to remain a “social user,” sneaking away at bars and parties to do keybumps in the bathroom, but never making it a part of her daily routine. On the other hand, I fell into a whirlwind love affair with something that, even after two years of sobriety, still has a hold on me. I loved (love?) how it made me feel, that sheer invincibility coupled with seemingly infinite energy. Like I was on top of the world and somehow running circles around it at the same time. And for me, especially back in 2009, that was what I needed and wanted to feel.
2009 was a rough year, to say the least. I was in my third year of undergrad, and found myself newly single after a six-year relationship with my childhood friend and high school sweetheart. For the first time in my life, I was living alone in a big city, with no safety net, a grueling course load, and no idea where my life was headed. I spent my time partying with friends, sleeping around, and generally wasting my days away. That summer, before my senior year of college, my best friend passed away at the age of 21 from a medical condition. As one would expect, my already frail world came crumbling down. While sipping margaritas during happy hour on a patio on a sunny Dallas afternoon, a friend and I got a crazy idea: we should try cocaine. It had been glamorized and romanticized by countless films, and was the drug of choice for many of our affluent classmates. It would “take the edge off” and be, for the most part, socially acceptable to use in public. Everything was going to be okay, right?
It wasn’t very hard to find, and we started using that night. The first time was as awkward as any first time. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing, or what exactly to expect. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right. But, being the persistent little shit that I am, I kept going. And going. Pretty soon it was time to get more. I confessed to the rest of my close friends what I had gotten myself into, and they took the news well. It wasn’t long before most of them were using too, something I still blame myself for to this day. Luckily, most of them remained social users and were able to kick the habit with relative ease. For me, it was too late.
I was hooked. At any given moment in the year and a half that I used, I always carried at least a gram or two with me, plus a bowl – literally a kitchen bowl full of blow – hidden in my bedroom. I’d sneak off and snort coke off my keys in the bathroom in between classes, during parties, while out at bars – pretty much any chance I got the urge. I had cocaine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. During my visits back home, my parents commented on my weight loss, which I attributed to my newfound love for yoga (a total lie, at least at the time). I spent more on cocaine than I did on rent during that time. Some nights, I’d pick up an eighth, kill it, and call my dealer for more. On a few occasions, I had my dealer make three or four deliveries, because the first eight ball was not enough. The manic feeling was too good to pass up. It was like the euphoria of MDMA combined with the laser-sharp alertness of Adderall, but with a gentler comedown. I once told someone that if God himself were to gift-wrap any drug and send it to me, it would be cocaine. At one point, I was even hospitalized for kidney problems. The doctor sternly advised that I “make a lifestyle change,” but it didn’t matter. I was in love. I felt like Superman, and I was quickly spiraling out of control. I distinctly remember looking in the mirror one day and not even recognizing myself, or who I had become. I had accomplished what I originally set out to do – the “edge” was now gone, and I was left a numb, sniffling, shell of a person.
Somehow, I managed to graduate from college, and even get accepted into graduate school. But the drug use (in the interest of full disclosure, cocaine was not my only habit) didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until I had finished my first semester of graduate school and entered into a relationship with a somewhat sane person who never touched drugs in his life that I finally stopped. We stayed together for two years, and that brings us to where I am today.
Last night, my old friend and I decided to get together to catch up. We discussed our failed relationships and career issues over a few bottles of wine. The subject of cocaine came up, particularly how much we missed it and how it made us feel. A few phone calls and a trip into the city later, we found ourselves sitting in front of two neatly formed lines of iridescent white powder and a freshly opened bottle of sauvignon blanc, telling ourselves everything was going to be okay…Right?