As soon as I saw him, though, I recognized Tom’s face––thick dark hair, eyes the color of a cobalt ashtray. Deb was there, too, and we awkwardly shuffled around the table at the Farmers Market in a game of musical chairs until the silent music stopped and we sat. I ended up directly across from Tom, not at all what Scott had planned.
Two minutes into the small talk, he said, “You know John died, right?”
First thought: No. What?
Second thought: John was there when Billy and I met for the first time.
“Overdose.” I heard it. I slumped. “Yeah, he was doing all kinds of shit like crystal for about ten years. His dad found him in his apartment last September.”
I just sat there doing the emotional math. John and I had a complicated relationship, each vying for Sandra’s attention, approval. I didn’t like him. He always won. He was a trust fund baby, spoiled and talented.
His dad found him. His poor dad. Poor John.
I kept staring at the table, lining up the flatware this way and that while I tried not to cry. I didn’t want to look at Tom. Scott must’ve noticed something, asked me what was wrong. Tom took up the slack when I didn’t answer--told Scott and the rest of the table.
John was a visual artist before he met Sandra, his canvases a celebration of narcissism. He’d take sofa-sized sea and landscapes, and stencil his phone number in school-bus yellow across them. One of my favorite pieces was a detailed architect’s rendering of his condo with lines drawn from the couch to his bong and from his couch to his anti-depressants.
I wrote a long piece on the rhapsody of ruin that comes with crystal, but it’s really this simple: If you’re doing it, please seek some help, not only for you, but for those who love you. Don’t try to convince me or anyone else that you’re happy doing it. That’s a lie and you know it.
If you know someone who is trapped by it, be patient and do your best to guide them toward help. It’s fucked up tough, I know. But once the claws are in, it’s mighty hard to escape, and your love and compassion will go a long way toward saving your’s friend’s life.
This is a good starting point.