Life Advice from July 18, 2001
(A reflective piece I wrote on my 20th Birthday, 14 years ago this Saturday.
Today I am releasing it from The Vault)
*Experience is Paramount to Life*
I moved my best friend of 5 years out to Seattle with me, this last fall.
(Let’s call her Sawyer).
Her plan was to work for a year to establish residency & then join me that next fall at “The U”.
She was burned out from living on her own, working full-time, going to school full-time.
She lived 3 hours away from her sacrony-sweet, controlling, & manipulative family. She was failing college, hating the dental-hygienist program her parents had “encouraged” her to enroll in. She was working at a gas station, with a lot of 20-something single mothers, who weren’t going anywhere. She felt like she wasn’t going anywhere.
She needed to break free. Do something different. Go somewhere different.
Go someplace, you know?
So I told her to come out to Seattle!
She’d probably been out here a little over a month, because school had started.
I remember I was stuck at the bus stop at 85th Street & Aurora Avenue. I’d missed the 1st bus, or something, and the 2nd bus just was not coming. I’d been at school all day – I was hot, tired, hungry. I just wanted to be home. So I called Sawyer & had her come & get me.
When she got there, there was a woman in the passenger’s seat. She was a fairly young, black woman. Very emaciated. A pock-marked face, track-marks all up & down her forearms.
So I got in the back seat & told Sawyer thanks for picking me up.
Everyone made small talk, as Sawyer drove as per the woman’s instructions.
Her name was Claire.
When she found out we were only 19, she couldn’t stop laughing. “What she wouldn’t give to be that young again”, she said. The things she’d do over….She said she did know 2 things:
- 1) Don’t ever do drugs
2) Never take money from a man
…they’ll get’cha every time.
By that time we’d arrived in the alley of some seedy no-name motel. She said, “boy is it hot out” & “thanks for the ride”. She started to get out of the car & I mentioned to Sawyer that, in fact, it was hot out & we should go get shakes or something. Claire overheard & said “You girls lookin’ for a good shake? Go to Burgermaster. D’em shakes is dope!”
We all smiled at each other & then she stumbled off.
On our way home, Sawyer told me that the lady just jumped out in front of her, flagged Sawyer down & jumped in the car.
She was a prostitute, all strung out & coming down & needed to get back to her pimp for more.
We kind of laughed it off…Welcome to Seattle, Lock your car doors.
Do the Bonds of Friendship Ever Last?
* It’s 2 o’clock in the morning & I get a phone call. It’s Sawyer. She was driving around downtown, high, with friends, when she got into a wreck.
– What do I do?
* I walk into her room one morning & there’s a guy on top of her, f#ck!ng her brains out. Apparently, she went to a party & decided she was tired of being a virgin, so she brought him home. She thinks his name is Steve. No, she didn’t get his #. She doesn’t think she’ll see him again.
* The Acid.
* The Ecstasy.
* Her bong breaks on the kitchen floor & she starts crying.
I say, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t get what the big deal is”.
“Of course you don’t,” she says. “We can’t relate on anything anymore. We’re just on 2 different levels.”
– the enemy.
* All of the phone in the house now have caller I.D., because I’m tired of talking to her parents & bill collectors, all of whom are trying to track her down.
* The night’s she doesn’t come home.
* We’re having lunch at Las Margaritas. Last night she did this guy, “Goose”, in 9 different positions. She’s asking me: How many times? How many positions? How many toys? Have I ever f#cked ‘til I was raw?!
My 1st boyfriend, my love, my only sexual partner.
We make love.
She’s right….We can’t relate on anything anymore.
* In February we have a house party, & to this party she brings D.C. – the Pimp.
* In March, I’m sitting at my other roommate’s restaurant, afraid to go home. D.C. says Sawyer owes him $500.00. I haven’t seen Sawyer in days.
* It’s finals week. I’m sitting at home in the living room, staring at a 1 lbs. brick of Marijuana I found, when I went to go put some shoes in her room.
The locks are being changed on Friday.
* I tell Sawyer she has to have her stuff out of her.
She hates me, “Don’t ever speak to me again”.
* Her parents call. They’re coming out here to get her. They hate me. This is all my fault, “Don’t ever talk to her again”.
– the silence.
It’s been 4 months & still nothing.
I know she is alive. I’ve ran into people who’ve seen her or heard something. I miss her. I think about her every day. I’m scared for her. I wish her the best. I love Sawyer…but she is gone.
You know, it’s pretty ignorant to dismiss advice simply based on the current condition of the advisor. I can’t help but think back to Claire. How prophetic.
She was right, about everything. All of it, you know?
I mean, the shakes at Burgermaster really are dope!
Anyway, that was 19.
Today I turn 20.
I can’t help but take a moment to wonder what experiences this year will bring.
But whatever happens – that’s life.
You know, it really is.
Life is about experience.
With each experience brings the opportunity for growth
and I want to grow as a person…
Bring it on!