Sunny California, my ass. I had only been in San Francisco about a year and a half and the whole myth of top down, tan boobs and beach party life had long since been blown. It was COLD. A bitter, big ocean cold. The wind scooped it off the Pacific and pushed it into your bones where it chilled you stiff. It was especially cold now that it was February.... and especially now that I had decided to kick heroin.
So, not only am I cold, really fucking cold, I am utterly ashamed. The awful crawling sick is compounded by how stupid I feel. I lie chattering in my bed under every possible blanket, towel and jacket to stop the shaking. My little room with the big beautiful and drafty bay windows stinks of cigarettes and an oily vinegary sweat that slicks up my whole body. It’s 4AM.
I can’t sit still. I don’t have to puke anymore, but the towels and blankets—though keeping me from freezing to death—are damp and on me. Being sick like this means that anything touching my skin sets my nerves off howling. My whole body feels like a limb that’s been dead asleep, but upon waking is splashing unbearable sensations of phantom prickling pain upon the slightest touch.
I must've looked pitiful under my dank cocoon of dirty laundry. Every inhale was a preparation for more pain and every exhale was a set of hitched whimpering. I was exhausted. Day three, no sleep. I was sure today would be better, but there I lay again, so twisted I could hardly hug myself in the dark, my sweaty hands clenching and unclenching on any hank of sheet, my body crawling within itself, twitching, trying woefully
to be comfortable. All I wanted was to go to sleep and wake up better.
I started to cry.
My tears leaked down my sweaty face and I prayed in broken little sobs. “Please...just let me sleep. Please, God. Let me fall asleep.”
Someone got into the bed with me. Though in the dark and quite alone, I felt a person, a solid.…
I turned quickly and blinked through the dark behind me. Nothing. Just my empty, silent room. Still, the bed had shifted and I felt something...someone...warm.
I lay back on my side. Eyes open, I said, “Please come back.”
And they did. The damp towels gave slightly and a big warm body was back against me, spooning me. I turned more slowly this time but they were gone like a sigh. I was, once again, cold and alone.
I turned back on my side and pleaded. “OK, OK…I promise I won’t try to see you. Please just come back and hold me until I sleep. Please!”
Before my prayer was even finished, I was back in the warm embrace of my visitor, or my dead relative, or God...who knows? All I can tell you is my shaking ebbed off slowly, my nerves calmed and my breathing evened out. This someone or thing held me to them and I began to warm, to soften up. There was no fear at all, just curiosity. I wanted so much to see whatever it was, to hold it and thank it. It was all so strange. In the end, however, I kept my word. I stayed curled on my side, my eyes facing away, when slowly, thankfully, they closed and I slept....And I woke up better.