Twenty-three years ago this summer I was packed into a little car with my family and driving to Phoenix, AZ to fulfill my dream. I had enrolled in the Phoenix Institute of Technology and was going to become a commercial artist.
I had big hopes and was very excited about finally being an adult and proving myself to everyone. I also had a compulsive nature and a propensity for drugs and alcohol. In a just a few weeks I connected with the same people (different place, different bodies, but the same people) that I was connected with everywhere I had been before.
One of the last weekends of my time in Phoenix (I arrived in June and left in early September) was spent in a suburb of Phoenix called Tempe. Myself and several classmates and “friends” gathered at someone’s apartment for a huge party that included walking the downtown area. Several of us were approached by a young man handing out tracts (a religious brochure) and this fellow happened to hand it to me as I was toward the front of the group. I was already somewhat intoxicated and it angered me that he was out to “ruin our fun.” I took the tract, it was titled “Are You Ready For The Rapture?” I looked at the man who was so sincere, smiling at us, and I crumpled the tract and threw it on the ground. I said something I won’t quote and walked past the him. He was more hurt than offended, I think. The guys I was walking with were surprised and said I was a jerk, I told them I didn’t care. I wish I knew who the guy was so I could apologize. In fact, I wish I could remember any of those people I was with, to apologize to them as well.
The night progressed and I became more and more out of control. At one point I remember telling the last person I was with, in a very melodramatic and completely ridiculous tone, “You probably don’t want to follow me anymore tonight.”
He looked at me like I was crazy, shook his head and stumbled off int the opposite direction. That’s the last thing I remember from that night. The next thing I remember is waking up. I opened my eyes to a throbbing headache and the sound of 18 wheelers driving by on the interstate which was a stone’s throw away. My back screamed in pain from the rocks I was laying on.
The sun was up, though it was partially shaded from view by the low lying yucca plants I was under. I was flat on my back in a space about two feet high and wide enough for my very skinny self to fit. I had on a pair of denim shorts, that’s it. No shirt, shoes, socks, nothing and I had absolutely no idea where I was.
I remember laying there and thinking, “How did this happen? Why am I here? Where the heck am I?” My physical location was a true indicator of where I was at spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I was lost, completely and utterly lost. I said a short, shallow prayer and asked God to help me before I scratched my way out from under those desert plants. I was in a construction yard of some sort, it was completely fenced in and had barbed wire around the top and a locked gate. I shuddered when I saw how close I was to the interstate, just a little further and I may have not only been lost, but dead as well.
I figured my way out of the yard thinking about how “lucky” I had been to find that little safe spot and figure out how to get in there when I was so drunk I couldn’t even remember coming there. I had no clue which way to go so I started walking and looking at the street signs and buildings, looking for something familiar. After several hours I found the apartment. I could tell it was the right place from the people passed out, literally, on the grass and all over the floor in the apartment. Boy, we had a great time, everyone said, but it didn’t feel so great to me.
I wish I could say that I gave my heart to God right there on the floor of that apartment, but in fact the next weekend I was introduced to crystal meth and spent three days wide awake and tweaking out. I had to throw away my clothes at the end of it. They were ruined and you won’t believe the small of death on them from that poison leaking out of my pores.
That’s when I got scared and I realized I was not going to make it. I had no money, no job, and just a few things in my apartment that I was about to be kicked out of and I knew if I stayed I would become another meth addict. I quit school and called my brother, Michael and asked him to come and get me. I had failed.
Michael left that same morning and drove over 700 miles one way to come pick me up. A few weeks after I was back in Odessa my Uncle George stopped by our apartment. He knocked, and when I opened the door he handed me a tract, it was titled (I am not making this up) “Are You Ready For The Rapture?” That leads into another story.
Here’s how I’ll end this part: Phoenix Metro (Tempe and all the area in the Valley) I apologize that the last time I lived there I didn’t add anything of value to you, but I am coming back. I was lost, but now I am found.