Dylan Goodluck discovered that living with a heroin addict is not all it’s ‘crack’-ed up to be…
I lived with a crack addict for six months.
We started off as just house-mates, but sometime in the course of my living there, we became ‘actual’ mates.
You might expect me to rag on her, to say she was an appalling person who was destructive and terrible to be around.
I won’t lie to you.
I can’t make any excuses for her either.
All I can tell you is the truth.
She was a good a friend. Always on hand with a cup of tea (with five sugars), and always at the ready to watch a movie, go to a gig, or just talk if I wanted. She was a good cook who liked to make soup every day if she could. She was heavily into body modification, and regaled me (whether I wanted to hear it or not) of her plans for piercings, implants or new tattoo ideas for her already densely-canvassed skin.
She had also been a teen mother who gave her child up for adoption – a daughter with whom she still managed to stay in touch, and who, when last I heard, was following in her mother’s ‘ink-steps’ in planning to get a tattoo of an owl that she’d drawn.
She’d lost a few good people in her life early on who didn’t deserve it, and she was in a city she wasn’t familiar with.
She kept her ‘use’ to herself mostly, and while I’m sure she’d take a hit at least three or four times a day, thankfully she would do so in the privacy of her own room. The few times I saw her smoking were when she had friends over. They’d stay in the lounge-room and pass around the pipe. They were usually pretty accommodating, and if I was around she would keep windows and doors open so the room wouldn’t get hot-boxed. If any of her friends would jokingly offer me the pipe, she’d put her foot down and tell them off.
One time I got talking to a friend of hers. Although it was uncomfortable at first, he brought up that he’d recently finished a media course at the same university I was attending at the time.
It becomes difficult to imagine crack users as violent, psychotic kleptomaniacs when you’re confronted with how normal they are. It’s harder to see the sensationalised Hollywood-esque fiction of the desperate junkie who’ll do anything to get a fix when he or she lives out their lives alongside you without it being something that defines their state of being.
It’s hard to feel hate, disgust and loathing for people when they’re friends and family who haven’t done any great hurt to anyone but themselves. For some, the simple fact of the harm the users are doing themselves is enough to turn relationships toxic. For others, who are tolerant enough, it can only been seen as a fact of life. People will do whatever they want. Trying to alter that seems about as feeble and surreal as telling grapes to morph into cubes, or trying to make porridge cry.
I think I fall somewhere in between the two camps.
And, viewing my living situation through that prism of detached logic and disappointment, I decided to move.
She never once stole from me, hurt me or upset me, besides the times she told me off for not doing the dishes, and occasionally using a mug of mine.
I’ve moved to a different part of the city now. There are restaurants and boutique stores a few hundred metres away, while my place is nestled in between cul-de-sacs and opulent houses with ornate iron fences that show garishly decorative gardens.
About a week ago, I was putting a piece of garbage into some houses’ bin that had been left out the front.
As I opened the lid, I saw, sitting at the bottom, a lonely, used syringe.
There is no divide. No utopia in the city, the country, or anywhere else, of a separation between the users, the abusers, the schmoozers or the losers who get by day-to-day with a little chemical incentive.
There’s only the simple reality – while me may not live in the same state of being as one another, we do live in the same neighbourhoods, suburbs and cities, and at the very least, the same world.