Ice. The road is covered in ice. I’m cold, my teeth chatter. I can’t tell if it’s the weather or if I’m in the early stages of withdrawals. I finish my last cigarette. All this waiting is making me nervous and I start to get second thoughts. I can still change my mind. I’m so cold it starts to hurt, but what hurts the most is to find myself at seventeen years old outside the gates of San Patrignano on Christmas Eve, hoping for a chance to be let in.
If only I could go back a few years and stop my self from smoking that first joint, from dropping that first pill, all these problems would just disappear. I would be spending Christmas at home. But who am I kidding? Christmas at home? Home was already a nightmare before I started taking drugs. It was a nightmare for my father too, who took off to spend Christmas somewhere else, with another family. He left me before I was even born. I used to hate him, I still do, but I ended up doing exactly the same. The only difference is that my new home was on the streets my new family the homeless and destitute.
The line starts to move. The damn wait is finally coming to an end. This guy comes forward and starts to ask me questions. He’s not wearing a uniform but it doesn’t stop me from thinking that he would make a perfect cop. He asks me to wait just a little bit longer and I lose my patience. “At your orders sir!” I reply, the sarcasm dripping from my voice.
I’m pretty insecure at the best of times, but today is just the worst. My heart is totally frozen over and filled with fear. Fear is what brought me here this evening. Fear is what I’ve been running on my whole life. Fear brought me to my knees, because it was fear that lead me to start using heroin. The Pugliese comes back and puts a hand on my shoulder. “Where are you taking me?”…”If I don’t get you to come now you’ll have to leave by this evening. Follow me.”
I kind of regret making fun of him earlier. I want to take my last hit. I tell them that I need the bathroom. He follows me. He doesn’t give me enough time. He then takes me to the dining hall. There is too much noise. He introduces me to two people. They are supposed to look after me? I’ve always done everything on my own. I’ve never needed anyone. I lied, I robbed, I dealt. I knew how to handle myself in any situation. Only after a while did I realize that these things didn’t really matter. I didn’t know how to be around other people. I liked to dominate, to overpower. If someone scared me I would terrorise them in my own way, using my own weapons.
Years pass by, four to be exact. These are just memories of a not so distant past. San Patrignano has helped me grow up. That’s enough for me.