When People I Know Start Hanging Out with Junkies and Then I Think Everyone in Oakland Is A Junkie

There has always been this unfathomably permissive attitude towards drugs in Oakland that I never really understood. 

I was going from the City to Oakland to score some weed with some friends when we slammed our way into a rather typical 2pm Oakland scene of beers and beer bellies and movies on couches, and while I didn’t really care about knowing anybody in the room at the time (or, in retrospect, nor do I care now), what struck me as strange was the girl perched right smack dab in the center of it all, whom I knew slightly from comings and goings, but we certainly weren’t even on a, “Oh, hey, I remember your name and small bits of conversations we had at that one party!” level. But there she was, and I can chalk it up to naivete but it was more a level of incredulousness that passed over me as I saw her smacking her arm and saying, “You want weed, right?”

She was a normal seeming girl. Maybe about my age, but somehow the fragile cool of everyone ascending mutually into their states of fuck-upedness didn’t seem like a good enough qualifier for everyone, maybe eight of us, standing in that room and watching this one random girl shoot up. Maybe I was mistaken though, maybe I had snuck in and forgotten to pay the fee for the show. Maybe this was performance art and I hadn’t read the flyer properly as she slid the needle into her arm. It wasn’t the first time I had seen anyone shoot up, or the last, but it was certainly the most alarmingly casual, convivial, cordial case of watching someone inject drugs that I had ever encountered.

Years later, whenever her name comes up in conversation, it’s always an update on her “she just came out of” or “she’s about to go to” rehab status. 

I’ve discovered now that I don’t really know anyone who hangs out in the pervasive Oakland junkie rock’n’roll noise scene who isn’t already themselves a junkie, which comes as a disappointment, seeing as there are some really attractive people who at one point in time were on my fuck bucket list before they went down the way of bloated, disgusting, addicted to drugs and living in some shack in the Lower Bottoms with seven other junkies. 

But maybe heroin is like herpes in Oakland – you know who’s doing it, and you know what the deal is, but at the end of the day you find that you’re still fucking around with that person despite the fact that – well, herpes isn’t fatal, maybe I should liken it more to HIV. Except that’s not even fair to people with STDs because people who do heroin are voluntarily dying in a really annoying way.

Anyways, we all have a million depressing junkie and drug addict stories we could be sharing with each other right now, but, let’s all spare ourselves the pity party and just agree that “loaning” $10 to your junkie friend is not going to help anybody out with anything ever.