Twenty four years ago today a baby saved my life.
I was nineteen at the time. Nine months prior I was living on the streets in Boulder, Colorado. There was a group of us, all punk rockers, and we were living the dream… half-starved beggars with big hair and even bigger attitudes. I was ready to die.
As cool as we all were I was miserable. Life had become an endless cycle of panhandle, buy acid, trip, sleep… start the process over. I’d lost the point. I slept on the floor with 13 other people, in the back of a pick up with my friend Malcom or with my boyfriend Keith. I spent most of my time being angry and hating everyone around me including myself. What started out as my quest for adventure was starting to pull me under.
One particularly violent night of drinking ended up with me in the emergency room strapped down on a table with IVs trailing out of me. A very angry policeman was guarding me. Apparently I’d gotten to ride in an ambulance but I barely remembered it. I had gone into alcohol poisoning after trying to out drink Keith with tequila. I can remember up to shot 8 and then it’s just hazy flashes.
I was back by the next evening just in time to join another group panhandling foray. Off we all trotted to the outdoor mall in the rain, single file along the side of the road. I watched the headlights of cars rushing up behind us and I thought about how close they were to us. The road was wet and I reckoned it would be hard to stop very quickly. In a second I decided that would be how I’d end it and I stepped in the road before I could change my mind.
There were headlights rushing up behind me eating up the dark road with light. The brakes started squealing and I had just enough time to wonder how badly it would hurt. The car started sliding on the wet road, I had the sensation of heat on my legs and then the bumper nudged the back of my knees making me stumble a step forward.
I whipped around expecting an angry driver that would scold me and shoo me away. I planned to blow them off and do it again. Instead, when I turned around to see my near miss driver, I found an angry policeman for the second time in 24 hours. Instead of a quick scold and a rude send off I got taken to 72 hour psychiatric evaluation.
The new experience and challenge perked me up. By now it was nearly midnight and I was in a locked waiting room with two other people. I occupied myself with being friendly while I stole everything that was near me including one poor guy’s house keys. The thought of him heading home after the worst night of his life to find he couldn’t get in his front door filled me with malicious joy. I wanted the world to burn with me.
When my turn for evaluation came I told a story of how I’d been underage drinking and accidentally stumbled into the road. Supposedly when I’d seen the officer I’d frozen up and concocted a story of suicide to avoid being arrested for drinking. I paired it up with big teary eyes and made it clear that I was scared of this strange place. None of it was true but it was logical. The psychiatrist took pity on me being stuck in such a rough place and released me. He even paid my cab and had the cabbie pick up McDonald’s for me because I’d missed dinner.
I made my way back to my boyfriend’s apartment and let myself in. He was asleep in a hammock he’d strung up in the living room. I curled up next to him and gave him the brief story of where I’d been. He fell back asleep and I lay awake thinking angry thoughts to God. I decided to send him a message via prayer.
There was no way that cop should have been able to stop so you win that one. I’m still alive… but for how long? You can’t save me every weekend. Tomorrow when I get up I’ll go right back and step in the road but this time I’ll watch for a big truck. If you save me 100 times I’ll try 101 and eventually you’ll miss. So this is my warning to you; if you have any purpose for my life at all, you better work one of your miracles fast or I’m clocking out of here. You can only save me so many times. Act now or lose me forever.
The next morning I woke up and there was one thought on my mind; I’m pregnant. My life was about to do a 180. To be continued…