It all flipped so quick

Everything in life can flip-flop at a flip of a switch. Yeah my chances were higher because I stayed high. I had it good for a while. I had accepted that I was a heroin addict destined to live with addiction. I was diseased and needed medicine.

This recollection takes place while I worked at ImproveIT home remodeling in 2009. Every morning before work I took a shot of heroin into my vein. Sometimes for lunch and often before bed. This strategic regimen gave rise to my status within my profession, and I was offered a promotion. Things were good. Though I couldn’t be satisfied with my moderated medication. Society said I was high. I, said I was medicated. Still, the stigma buried within, wanted nothing more than to be free from this sin. A friend introduced me to a new substance legally bought commercially. Bath salts. Now I’m clean, on speed proud to be me.

ImproveIT was located in the Short North of Columbus, Ohio. So were bath salts. I was living in Bremen, a small village about an hour and a half away. So I moved it closer to work. Now, with my work close and my new chosen substance near, the world was mine. I had nothing to fear. Ignorance. I had no idea. Soon I lost control and my paranoia ruled my reality. I got fired from ImproveIt. My new home in the Intown Suites on Sawmill Road eventually left me. Then there we were homeless, out of money and bath salts. I can’t even remember exactly the exact interaction that led to the last transaction.

Here is a picture I found. A couple of the people I worked with are in it!

We walked. We walked.

We walked looking for a new place to call home, and with nothing else but my wife's hand in mine, we walked. To this day, there’s so much uncertainty still hidden by a mischievous curtain. I was lead. Mysteriously I came to an open lot in the middle of town. "There is no reason to hide. We should camp in the open." I decided.  We slept under the stars and woke up to the sun. That morning I knocked on doors.

“Hi my name is Eric. I’m a university student doing a study on homelessness on campus. I’ll be sleeping in this vacant lot for a couple weeks.” Door to door I went.

We read books. We listened to music. We napped. We ate. Two kind hearted gypsies floated by walking their big gray dog. Their eyes were filled with compassion and curiosity while they asked with open ears and mind,  "What are you doing here?" They must’ve not been home when I went door to door. I told them the truth. That we have been clean for three weeks. That we lost our home and we were using bath salts. I’m sure they assumed there was more, but they saw something in us.

If you’re reading this imagine for a second the situation. A husband and wife are homeless because of using bath salts. They tell you they’ve been cleaning for just three weeks, what would you do?

These ladies, to this day, have dually impression upon me the definition of non-judgment and unconditional kindness.

Every night for a week they brought us dinner. We never asked for a thing. They started in with conversation. I still never expected them to return. They just kept showing up. At the time we hadn’t showered in weeks; and a home cooked meal? Warm? Ha! But there, we had them. Warm home cooked meals brought to us. It’s like lemonade on the beach. Every expression of compassion was delivered with faces smiling, souls cheering, and conversation brief. Eventually they told us some of their neighbors mentioned that they might call the cops. They bought a tent. Along the back of our empty lot full of grass was an alley like a headboard to a bed. To the bottom of our plot was a lonely bush. Our new temporary home. For the next hour or so I cleared out the bush and pitched our borrowed tent inside. It was pretty cool really. To live in a tent in a bush in the middle of a bustling city. Around this time they brought us lunch. Deli style sandwiches on paper plates if my memory serves me correct. The angelic Samaritans then asked the question I’ll never forget. “Is there anything we can give you?“ I looked down and thought of something we might need. The boy who lived in a bush with his wife replied with the only thing he thought he genuinely needed. "A shower would be amazing." “Is that it!?" She replied in astonishment.

That bush behind that car was my former home!! Crazy huh?!?!

There is something mesmerizing about living in extremes. From the wickedness of withdrawal, to an ultimate euphoria in just seconds. Or the other things like, a shower after sleeping outside for weeks. I still remember the feeling of the warm drops of water from the second floor shower. Starting from my face my dust free skin uncovered slowly to my toes. My rough hair became smooth, and the scent of body wash filled the room. This was more satisfying than walking into a cold air conditioning during a heat advisory.

Eventually we got kicked out of the tent in the bush. This kind couple preemptively told us to come over if the cops ever said anything. So we did. Not only did the Samaritan strangers offer us a place to live, they got me a job, treated us as family, picked me up from the hospital after I OD'd on bath salts. And still let us stay until they found us another home. Not only did Danni and Joe give us a fresh start, they have gave me something much more valuable. And internal memory I will forever cherish. The gift of hope wrapped in faith and a ribbon of unconditional love. If you’re reading this Joe and Danni, know that I am forever grateful for your trust.

Lesson Learned: To love without expectation, and only hope and compassion.

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