Once upon a time, I wrote a play called H.
And one week from today, H will have a staged reading at Guild Hall in East Hampton, as part of their JTDLab.
Before I was a teacher, I never knew a person who tried heroin. When I was in high school, kids dipped into their parents liquor cabinets. They smoked weed. The rebels did cocaine.
When I thought about heroin, I thought about homeless folks on the streets of New York City. I thought of dirty needles and dark alleys and seedy areas that people avoided like the plauge.
Teenagers sporting skinny jeans and hoodies and faces full of make up with their iPhones in tow were never a thought in my mind.
Heroin was not something I ever encountered.
Heroin was not something I ever heard about.
Not until I became a teacher, that is.
Then I heard about people doing it - and those people, those kids, were my students.
It still hurts my heart to think about my kids who struggled with addiction. Beautiful, bright, wonderful kids, who fell prey to a vicious monster that knew no gender, no race, no economic status.
They came from loving homes, they came from homes with stories that would make your heart shatter into a million pieces.
They came from all different walks of life.
They had all different stories.
One too many of them had one thing in common, and it was abusing pills, and then heroin. See, at the time, oxycotin was $25 a pill. But heroin was a mere $9 a bag. So when the pills ran out, they turned to the cheaper option.
I can't count the amount of times they came to my colleagues and I, crying. Broken. Distraught. Angry.
It was a vicious cycle that they couldn't break.
It was a period in my life I can never forget.
I couldn't understand how my kids, who I believed in so much, who had so much potential, could get wrapped up into this cycle of addiction.
Why couldn't they see themselves as I did? Why couldn't they find another outlet for their pain? Why didn't they know how to lean on the adults in their lives that loved them? Cared for them? Wanted the best for them?
I still remember my kids who came to class high. The ones who failed out because they were too doped up. I remember the ones whose eyes rolled back in their heads because of their cocktail choice of the day. I remember one of my most favorite students, coming to me, crying because she started doing drugs with her boyfriend. It was the thing that she hated about him - and now, she too was doing it.
Help me, Min.
I remember her fight.
I remember being so proud of her when she graduated. When she got clean.
I remember all of their faces.
I fought for those faces, day in and day out, and I'd do it all over again if I had to.
I never understood why they choose to shoot up. Or smoke it. Or take pill after pill. I don't think I'll ever understand. But at a certain point it doesn't become about understanding anymore - it's about listening.
It's about loving. It's about finding ways to support those who are struggling - in a proactive way.
So, I'll listen.
And I'll write about it.
Because perhaps my words will ring true to another face that needs fighting for. Perhaps another mother or brother or sister or father will hear the hope in my words. Perhaps the story that has come from this will open a conversation about addiction.
Because we sure don't talk about it enough.
We sweep it under rugs and hide it in dark corners and give silent looks of disgust and distain and sometimes mask it as concern. We hurdle people off to rehabs and isolate them in classrooms. We dance around the subject.
We never talk about it. Openly. Honestly. Truthfully.
Here's to the start of a conversation.
One can only hope.
H…is a story of three different teenagers – Zoe, Gemma, and Owen – all of whom struggle with heroin addiction. This is a story of how three teenagers and young adults have been effected by this monstrous drug, and how addiction not only changes the lives of the addicts but their families and loved ones as well. H… begs the questions: how does the cycle of addiction start? What role does society play in all of this? And more importantly, what’s it going to take to break the cycle of addiction? Will the cycle be broken before lives are lost?
I will be directing this staged reading, and the cast of H features Alyssa Castellano, Rob DiSario (The Night Alive), Chloe Dirksen (The Poets of Amityville), Joe Pallister (To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men - Bay Street Theater), William Sturek (Of Mice and Men - Bay Street Theater), and Michelle Veintimilla (The Visit, FOX’s Gotham).
Guild Hall is located at 158 Main Street, in East Hampton, NY. Tickets to this staged reading of H... are FREE! Additional information is available guildhall.org.