Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Draw

I have lived in a bad neighborhood for almost a year now. It is no worse that the neighborhoods I lived in in New Orleans. But, then again...this is not New Orleans.
I know the score here. I see what goes on around here. I know the street corners around here are flooded with crack, and who knows what else. I know there is poverty and addiction all around. I know there are homeless and downtrodden. I have been there, and I recognize its face. I know when someone passes off rocks to another person. I recognize the pass, the expressions...thinking they are so slick. I see what happens around here.
I am not tempted by any of it. I do not even really think about it. I am thankful to be so far away from my deprivation and addiction that none of this affects me. I see someone smoking crack or copping drugs, and I do not even feel an inkling of desire. I am in a different time and place than I once was, and I can turn my head and casually look the other way. I have better things on my horizon...finally.
I was thinking today about how hard it can be. It was very hard for me to get clean once upon a time. I know what it is like to give in to temptations because they are JUST AROUND. My neighbor here has had some issues with crack. He has been to jail several times, and his felony charges have made it hard for him to get a decent job. He is going to NA, and he used to wear the face of change.
Every addict knows how difficult the path can be, especially when your life is immersed in drugs. My neighbor did get back on crack. He was sneaking around behind his wife's back; doing it when she was not around. He popped up at my door once wanting to borrow twenty bucks at 2am. I am sure his wife, too, saw the signs.
One day I noticed I had not seen him in a while. I saw the rest of his family, but he was not around. The word on the street was that his wife came home early one day and caught him hitting the crack pipe. She kicked him out.
About three months later, he shows back up. He looks much better. His eyes are clearer and he has gained some weight. He looks like he has been working out. I assume he has been to rehab for 90 days.
For weeks, I do not see him. I do not see him walking to the store, or hanging around. I do not even notice him in the car with his wife. Seems like he is in hiding. Then, I notice him walking to the store yesterday. I find myself watching to see if he stops at the corner; watching to see if he talks to anyone.
It gets me thinking about how hard it must be for him. You get out of rehab, but you are still immersed in a drug zone. It is everywhere. He may sit inside watching the crack addicts like I do. Only he starts craving. He starts to want to get high. And he is sure to know by now, that one wrong move out on the streets in front of his house could be the end of his sobriety. I feel very bad for him.
I have been there. I know how hard it is to get away from that lifestyle. Especially when it is all you know...and it is EVERYWHERE. I am thankful as I watch him walking down the street that I no longer walk in those shoes. I am so blessed to be in a different place. I look in my son's eyes, and I know that the sun has never shone so bright onto me. I hope my neighbor will one day feel the way I do now. I hope he beats this thing. I also hope he survives.

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