This is a small excerpt from the forthcoming (in a year) Desert Chrome, because twenty-eight years ago now, as in today and tonight and tomorrow, this happened:
Sonoran Desert 1992. Scott’s driving me south through the desert, to Tucson, to treatment. I try to write, journal in my lap, pen in my grip; I try to keep my eyes open, to see those giant saguaro cacti, their angular arms rising to snag the sky; sun too bright, my eyes keep closing behind my shades; I’ve popped so many pills I feel like heroin as my head drops to the side and I try to lift it, to watch the desert grate by, but the sun glares and my eyes close again; Scott’s talking and I want him to stop, to not care, I want not to care; I can’t lift my head, my mouth slack, breath slow; I feel the nod through a body filled with the warm slow buzz of near-death and I sink into it all the way. The pen falls from my hand.
Scott pulls into the circular driveway of the women’s treatment center and shakes me awake and when I open my eyes the first staff person I see is a man. Anger burns through me as I step from the Blazer. Scott tries to hug me but I’m on the fight, swinging a suitcase the man takes from my grip, not to help me but to go through it, confiscating shampoo for its alcohol content because, what, I might drink shampoo? Are you fucking kidding me? and Scott drives off into the desert night alone. A female nurse coerces me into a bed, gives me Benadryl (pills, not a shot), and I’m gone.
Drugs kept me going as I lived without my children. But drugs like a marriage can eventually stop working and I was sinking to the floor of the deepest body of water I could find and I wanted to stay in that quiet darkness . . .
. . . but my kids, my boys . . .
Thank you, best ex, for seeing me through that day and night and the many days and nights after.
From there to here:
All photos by TJ Holmes.