Updated: Jul 9
I have always wanted to be a good writer, but I went to high school to try and be Carlos Matthews or Howard Jones--not a great writer. But a special friend of mine, John T Nance Jr., got me to thinking about my time around the crack table and the feelings in the rooms, and people, the smells, the sounds, the emotions there, and I started writing.
The first thing I remember is the anticipation of waiting on the dope man. The second thing, the pure sadness that fueled the need to even be there. The silent tears of each person as we sat and waited for them to bring the 30-second chemical thrill.
Understanding that need fills me with fear.
To what real extent could the inner sadness be to spend the LITTLE money you had to get a 30-second brain happiness that--not real--pushed to the bottom of one's soul must you have lowered to even want this?
The next thing that jumps out is the constant click of those gottdamn lighters as each wounded person tried to ignite their own happiness, artificial, yes, but a few seconds of happy none-the-less. Then the faces as the chemical happy spread from person to person, fleetingly quick. Next the despair as it left just as quickly. Then the reboot as someone discovers a few more dollars, or even change. Then the faces of those who knew they were broke and hoped those who weren't would break a piece of the newly delivered chemical happy.
Such a sad set of moments. What a sad society that funnels people to this type of madness. I don't blame anyone for my time in this hell, but I do blame a supposed modern society where actions like this are even needed.
Then it hits me, all of us, everyone of us, are children of sadness, children of parents who worked like slaves and many times paid like slaves, whose dreams for us children never could come true, the great grandchildren of slaves and the children of dreams deferred.
Man, the the things I learned at Smoking Crack University.
God, thank you for removing me alive. I'm blessed for sure.
[Lonnie Wilson is a lifelong, fourth-generation Evanston resident. He is also a good writer].