I tried it a few times when I was really, really young—like five or six years old.

That’s my first memory of it, anyway. My friend turned me on. He lived right by my school, which I thought was so amazing; he only had to walk across the street to get there. I went over to his house once to slide down this big hill on some ripped-up cardboard boxes that the older kids had left hidden in the bushes. We got bored with that pretty quick, so we went back to his house. That’s when he first showed me how to spark it up. He had an older brother who did it too; their parents were never home. Although I only went there a few times, looking back, it was those visits, under the guise of playing G.I. Joe, or video games, or some other worthless shit that first planted the seed for me. Even the first time, I remember wanting more and more and more. It made me feel big. It made me feel cool. It made me feel like I was flying.

Been from Tucson to Tucumcari. Tehachapi to Tonopah. Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made. Chet Childress and Aaron Suski hike under the backroads so they won’t get weighed. Photo: Coburn Huff

I didn’t use for a long time after that. I just got into the regular kid stuff and really didn’t think of much, other than having fun. I went swimming a lot, ran track, played basketball, and watched TV. I had a paper route. I went to church with my parents. I rode wheelies on my bike—that kind of thing. I still saw lots of other kids doing it all the time, but for some reason I just wasn’t interested.

Then, sometime around the first or second week of high school, I met some kids I really liked—got to know them pretty well over the following months, too. After a while, I thought it kind of seemed like we were different from the rest of the students. Don’t get me wrong, no one hated us or anything; it just felt like we were on some other level. Not higher, lower, just … different. After a while, I figured out that all of them were somehow, some way, intoxicated on a daily basis. When I was asked if I’d ever done it, I said, “Yeah,” like, “Sure, I do it all the time,” even though I hadn’t touched it in almost ten years.

Since then it’s all been a big blur for me.

For years it was almost the only thing I was able to think about. Most people didn’t even know I did it, really. I hid it pretty well. Graduated from high school, no problem. Just kind of coasted through with a low C average and got what I thought I needed out of it. My whole junior and senior years are hard to remember, though. We skipped out whenever we had the chance, found a clear parking lot, the back alley of some grocery store, or went over to someone’s backyard and sessioned hard. School was an excuse to leave home in the morning and home was a place to sleep after a long day on the streets.

Nick Ricker’s a man who thought he was a loner, but his back D wouldn’t last. Nick left his home in Tucson, Arizona, for some California grass. Photo: Coburn Huff

I enrolled in college for a few years, but living away from home, supported by my parents, gave me even more freedom to do it as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. I skipped class. I’d follow random whims, call in sick, or get someone to work for me just so I could get my taste. More times than I can remember, a few of us would get together, borrow a car, and drive nonstop to some godforsaken armpit of a town for another sleepless weekend of debauchery—getting in as much as we could before the inevitable return to the real world.

They say that the jails are filled with two types—people who just kicked or people who are killing time until their next fix. That about covers everyone. Seems like it’s getting to be that way on the outside, too. Didn’t used to be so prominent, but times change, I guess. Nowadays, everyone I know either does it, used to do it, is going to give it a try, sells it, buys it, makes it, thinks about it, has been hurt by it, has seen friends hurt by it, and on some level or another, can remember a time when it changed them from who they used to be, to who they are today.

It’s big, damn it.

Flyin’ across the desert from Texas to Tuscon, but Suski’s fishin’ for a southern star. The captain says it’s fine in Havana. This dude behind me needs a cigar. Photo: Coburn Huff

I can’t escape it, really, and so I’ve kind of resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to be struggling with this particular demon for the greater part of the rest of my life—however long that is. No point in denying it; I’m never quitting.

I’ve thought I was done before. A day, week, or month into some kind of forced layoff—injury, sickness, or outside intervention—but sooner or later (usually sooner) I’d find myself looking at my wristwatch, a calendar, an atlas, a globe and planning my return. My next lay, my next drink, my next dose, my next trip.

So, I don’t know. This confessional seems sort of pointless if you ask me. But what the hell? Right? It doesn’t change anything, anyway. My words aren’t anything new. They sound like the cobbled together fibs of someone who’s trying to explain his way out of trouble. Pure rhetoric.

We must keep on runnin’ it’s too late to turn back. Chet’s wanted in Tucson, we know. But things’ll blow over on the seashores of old Mexico. Pivot fakie. Photo: Coburn Huff

Maybe, somewhere deep inside, I hope someone sees it differently. It’s commitment; it’s devotion. It’s the only answer to a silent calling that comes from absolutely nowhere. A vocation. And as the universe gets smaller, I’m hoping the rest of humanity will understand that giving in to a vice such as this is really the only logical step in a time when the sharp blows of the world’s punchiness is trying to beat us all.

“Dose” is a verb, by the way. Like, “attack.”

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