Once Upon a Time in the Big City

Kristine Sinclair

Reprinted from "Aboriginal People" issue of Visions Journal, 2008, 5 (1), pp. 19-20

stock photoA smart girl, but . . .

Growing up, I was always one of the good kids. Top student, perfect attendance, math awards, honour roll. I graduated early, with great marks and wanted to become a lawyer.

In September 2005, I moved into Winnipeg from my reserve to start university, fully sponsored by my Tribal Council. But when I saw all the money my friends from back home had—they were hustling crack—I was immediately addicted. Money, money, money—it’s like a drug! Hey, I could have all the nice things I’ve always wished for. I had a fresh sound system put in my car by one of my buddies—complete with a CD deck, two 15-inch subwoofers and an amazing amplifier. It was pounding! I loved it.

I never touched the crack, but I made money just by driving around with my buddies. They’d pay for my meals, hotel rooms, gas, entertainment—everything, basically. I felt like nobody could touch me.

My parents started getting calls from the university because I wasn’t going to classes, and my sponsorship was in jeopardy. I didn’t care; I was out having fun with “my crew,” you know.

In October, I was evicted from my apartment for having too many people come in and out, and my buddy went to jail. Then I met a guy who I thought I fell in love with, but he went to jail, too, not long after my friend did. I was left alone.

My school was slipping. What was once my favourite thing to brag about had become a big shadow over my mind. Growing up, I was always the smart one, the one people thought would go far in life. And here I was, alone, with nobody to talk to. I started doing coke heavily and partying whenever I could. It got so bad that I was kicked out of school again. It was the third time—my mom kept fighting to keep me in my classes.

My parents came into the city to help me speak with my teachers and the dean university. Because my marks were great; it was just my attendance that was a major concern. They came to my auntie’s, where I was now staying, and started giving me shit because of how bad I was doing in the city. Then they went to their hotel, saying they’d be back in the morning. I started crying endlessly, trying to figure out what I was here for. I felt so bad because I’d let down the people I love the most, the people who cared for me more than I cared for myself. I started digging around my auntie’s place and found pills of all kinds—and took them. The last thing I remember was being really hot, and falling asleep on a book I was writing in.

The next morning, my mom came into my room, yelling because I was still sleeping. Then she noticed my speech was slow, I was moving really slow and my lips were going blue. She started freaking out, but she and my dad took me to a hospital emergency.

After they got the drugs out of my system and I had talked to a psychiatric nurse, I was let go. My parents had gone to talk to the people at the university. But what did I do? I walked out of the hospital with two bouquets of flowers went see this guy Shaun,* who was always supplying me coke and parties. When I got there, I gave one bouquet to his mom, but he was lying there with his baby’s mom. So I went down the street to one of my buddy’s crack shacks, where some of my friends worked. They got kind of bugged at me for being so stupid—I still had my hospital bracelet on. I gave the last bouquet to some hookers who were there, and I left because my mom was at Shaun’s place to pick me up.

My parents told me I was allowed to go back to school again. I was relieved, but still had a gut feeling that I didn’t want to go to university any more. It just wasn’t growing on me.

Love and drugs and the whole darn scene

There was this guy, though, who did grow on me. My ex-boyfriend met him in jail and showed him my letters and pictures. This guy—his name was Sam*—started to fall for me. When he got out of the youth centre he started calling me. At first I was reluctant to talk to him, because I didn’t have a clue who he was, yet he knew all this stuff about me.

Anyways, Sam and I started hanging out a lot. I was serious about this relationship, but he wasn’t. He’d say he loved me, then turn around and phone his baby’s mom. And she started harassing me; my phone would be ringing 24/7and I’d hear the same old name-calling and bullshit over and over again.

Sam and I started working for his sister Lola* and her boyfriend—it was like a pizza hotline for crack heads. We started making money and staying in hotels every weekend to get away from my auntie’s and his sister’s place. We started taking ecstasy and I wasn’t doing coke as much. I felt like he really loved me, even though I’d catch him constantly on the phone with his baby’s mom talking about their little girl. I hated it. It made me feel so low.

Then I started to notice a change in his attitude—and I found cans made into pipes. Sam got really edgy and was always mad at me, yelling at me to go away. And he’d be talking to his baby’s mom. I couldn’t take the pain.

Then one night, I caught him: he was stealing crack from his sister’s stash and smoking it. I couldn’t believe it. I was going out with this guy? His sister told me he’d smoked crack before—with their mom, who I hadn’t met yet. 

Anyways, Sam started getting worse and worse. I’d cry and cry to him and ask him not to work on the crack line any more, but he’d insist that I’d want money. And we’d slow up their little business, because he’d be tripping out, not wanting to go back and hand over the phone and crack because he’d smoked it all. He started going into debt with his sister and her boyfriend, owing money left and right

Then Sam’s sister kicked him out because his addiction was getting out of control and he was staying with me at my auntie’s place. He started feeding me lots of ecstasy because it made us very agreeable with each other. I’d be so x’d out I’d be okay with him smoking crack. I actually sat next to him under a blanket, listening to him make his pipe (out of a can). When I’d cry for him to stop, he’d get really angry and hit me. He’d say things like: “ I can’t stop.” “You don’t understand what I’m feeling” “You don’t know what I’m going through.”

The last time I caught him smoking, it was my 18th birthday. We were getting ready to go smoke some weed with friends downtown, and then go see my parents at The Keg for dinner. I noticed that Sam stayed in the bathroom, with the door closed, for a long time. Then he comes back into my bedroom and says, “Okay let’s go,” grabs his stuff and heads outside.

I just knew! I dug around in the washroom—and there it was: a can, hidden in my robe that was hanging on the towel rack. I felt so angry and sad, I blew up. I was fuming. I went outside and yelled at my boyfriend. He started heading to the bus stop to go to his sister’s place. But I chased him, trying to get answers. I ran back to my car, drove to find him and told him to get into the car. He got in. We were both crying by this time. He said things like: “It’s so hard; you have no idea what I’m going through.” “You don’t understand.” Meanwhile, it’s my birthday, he’s my love and I was being affected by all this stuff . . . Ugh, what a day!

But it was the last time I caught him. Because he quit.

Crack, ecstasy, coke—ain’t it all the same?

Sam stopped everything—crack and running back and forth between me and his baby’s mom. Lola moved from the place she was living, because there were drugs everywhere there, and Sam and I moved in with her.

I began to rebuild my trust in him. And Sam didn’t go into any sort of rehab, because I was there for him, no matter how low he fell. I showed him the love, respect and caring he needed to get better. I believe my persistence helped him a lot. Everyone began trusting him.

And I stopped doing coke. Sam made me realize that it’s the same thing as doing crack. His sister even stopped selling drugs and made sure her boyfriend stayed away from selling.

At times, back when Sam was smoking crack, I felt like giving up. I’d begin to fall into a deep depression—then he’d make me believe all these lies and I’d be happy in love all over again. It was a wicked cycle I was put through, but for some reason I felt I had to help him. He’d cry out sometimes, “I’m a good person, I really am. I’m sorry.”

Today, Sam tells me he smoked crack because he felt like he had nothing. He said he felt that if he smoked enough one day, maybe he would die. But he says he’ll never go down that road again, because now he knows he’s better than that.

A happy ending

We’re doing great now. I’m now the administration officer for a provincial Aboriginal emergency measures organization and I love it. And, I make great money. Sam started school. Most of the teachers thought he’d be one of the native “gangsta” dropouts they see each year. But he’s actually excited to go to school each day and gets great marks.

We finally got a place of our own, a little two-bedroom bungalow. We just got our cable and internet hooked up last week. I’m excited to begin my life with such a great guy. I actually love him more because of all we’ve been through together.

 
About the author

Kristine grew up in a strict household, raised by both parents, and has what she calls an “eccentric” personality. She’s working toward a diploma and degree in business administration, and has dreams of being the head of a major firm someday

 

* pseudonyms

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