It’s a beautiful Yuma, Arizona morning. It is a February –the cold part of winter is over- kind of morning. The blazing summer heat will come soon enough, but this day the weather is perfect. On the back porch of the recovery house there is random pieces of furniture; a dresser, a nightstand, swivel lawn chairs, a barbecue grill, a general mess. There is a tall dark sun beaten Mexican with black hair. His outfit is made up of basketball shorts, a long sleeve plaid button up shirt with a short sleeve plaid button up shirt of a clashing color on top, bright blue basketball shoes, and a black cowboy hat. He is dancing. He looks off, or maybe it is that you know he is off. But this is before his mood swings. This morning takes place long before he becomes violent, before he has tried to fight you and put a hole in the hallway wall when you pushed him back, before he has tried to choke you out. Before your roommate Micah grabs a butcher knife and you wonder what the fuck is going to happen next.
This February morning with the near perfect temperature the tall dark Mexican is dancing his best Spanish number. He is in the moment. If he was at a party he would fit right in with drunks and the stoners. Except Paul is perma-stoned. He is brain fried. He is similar to your Iphone when it has gotten cracked or has water damage, but it still works. You can still play Candy Crush as long as you can put up with the minute by minute glitches, freeze ups, and general screw loose-edness. Paul is dancing. Paul is happy.
Sitting beside you in his swivel chair is the DJ of this madman’s story. He fidgets, shuffles his feet, grumbles, gurgles, coughs, and sputters. He is in his fifties but his face shows sixty. He is blasting his heavy metal records, that day it was Metallica. He is a white man who describes himself as a child who will never grow up. He bobs his head to the music, but not in the chill sort of way. He is frantic. His mind is like that bouncing restless leg. Look in his eyes and you can almost see the overloaded freeway of thoughts racing through his mind. And he is kind to you. He is also a little racist. Yay! Lucky for you, you were born a white person, so that somehow gives you extra respect in Micah’s eyes. Don’t ask.
Micah used to smoke meth. He does smoke meth. He breaks any laws that get in his way, but you don’t know that yet. This is before he brings home the shittiest weed you have ever seen in your life. And he doesn’t force the weed on you. No, he only takes offense to you telling him he bought bunk weed. You say something like, “No man, I am two and a half months clean and even if I did want to smoke it would not be that trash.” Your recovery home has strict rules regarding drugs but you don’t want to be that rat, that asshole who reports everything. Especially not over something that has the exact opposite effect on Micah and his usual meth diet. So you only tell your case manager and that is it.
This calm in a mellow psychosis sort of way morning is before Micah puts the weed on a clipboard and puts it on your chest while you are lying on the living room couch, watching television. He is sitting on the floor cross legged with a headlamp on, next to the couch, telling you to look at it. “Look at the nugs, man!” “It’s just shake,” you say to him. Right then your peer support comes through the front door, and you immediately grab one of the couch pillows and throw it on top of the clipboard. And as Micah gets up from the floor and guides the peer support to the kitchen; as you run down the hall with the pillow and clipboard and shove the whole mess on top of your bedroom cupboard, you think to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be a sad state of affairs if you were to get busted with weed after years of smoking daily and eluding the law? Now, after you had gone nearly three months without cannabis, and it is not even yours!”
This cool, no breeze, seven AM day Micah sits, fidgets, mumbles and yells lyrics along to his booming stereo. While Paul dances the cumbia or whatever, you sit there and take it all in. You can’t judge them. You are in the recovery assisted living house just the same as them. You signed up for this front row seat to the crazy show. So you don’t say a thing and try to enjoy the lull of the moment. The break from the normal programming of superbad insanity this house will bring you. This morning is just the right amount of madness. This you can handle.