I think life can be summed up by your firsts. First love, first fuck, first time you realise drugs are fantastic etcetera etcetera.
First impressions are important too, I think it's amazing that most of the time, all you get is a first impression, a night spent together, a brief conversation in the supermarket. And then that's it. That's the only impression of that person you'll ever have. Isn't that odd to you? That thousands of people make assumptions about you, purely by looking at you, and most of the time you'll never get a chance to change their mind.
I love to people watch. I can spend hour's just watching. On days like this, when the sun is too bright, the house is too stuffy and your head pounds too much to do anything but sit and stare, I take a walk to the café, I take a chair, I order a large latte and I watch.
I like to feel as though I see past the bullshit. It might be a need for a bit of control, or even arrogance left over from the cocaine last night but it relaxes me to think I know more than I should. I love catching a glimpse of a dodgy tattoo at the bottom of the classy business woman's back, an unwanted reminder of long ago lover.
I love watching couples sit together, noticing how she stares at him so intently. Noticing how he can't stop staring at waitresses arse. I love watching kids playing, watching out for that one little fucker who pushes too hard.
That's what people watching does, it reveals our little slips and fuck ups, it reminds you that everyone's human.
I wonder what someone else might think of me on first look. My mink coat might make them think I was rich, my oversized sunglasses make me look like an arrogant prick to be honest, and I'm indoors for fucks sake. The dress and heels definitely make me look far too dressy to be in a café. Basically anyone looking at me is going to think I'm so wannabe Paris Hilton. Today though, I couldn't care less what they think.
My pupils are huge, the bags under my eyes are bigger, hence the sunglasses. The dress and heels are because I still haven't been home yet and the coats because my comedown is starting to kick in so I'm bloody freezing. There is still some coke at home and I have every temptation to go get it, but Ben is home and I'm in the dog house so it'll have to wait.
My coffee is going cold, it tastes awful but I can't stop sipping it. The repetitive action is quite soothing I think. Oh my God my head kills. Even this inner fucking monologue is starting to hurt. Jesus. I need a distraction. Fuck it, I'll give you some of my firsts, take my mind off things.
Oh I know, it seems like an unimportant first, but it's not. It sparked (pun intended) something in me, I realised for one that being high is almost always preferable to being sober. Plus that first joint led to me meeting not only my best friend, but also the love of my life. If that's not an advert for pro drugs I don't know what is.
My first joint was not a result of peer pressure. It wasn't forced upon me, I'd never even had friends smoke. I heard one of the older boys at school talking about it. It sounded so much fun, I was 13.
I thought about it over the next few weeks, wondering if it was a good idea. Then one day at school I was feeling particularly ballsy and I just asked him if I could buy some. And that was it. The boy took my money, gave me a bag of green buds.
I took my best friend at the time, Jess, home with me after school, my parents were still working till 6. We had literally no clue what to do with it. Embarrassingly enough I had too Google it. We had no papers and nothing to roll with, nor the skill to do it. So I crafted an apple pipe, carefully watching the instruction video.
We were high in no time, we laughed solidly for an hour about nothing. I ate out pretty much the entire fridge and then walked to the shop for more food. Whilst I went to the shop Jess had fallen asleep and my parents had got home. She was laid across the floor, leg twitching like a crazy person. My only explanation was that she had fallen asleep and was dreaming of chasing rabbits. Lame, I know.
Thankfully neither of my parents paid enough attention or cared enough to question it. I woke Jess up and she threw up three times in my loo. She vowed never to smoke again. I sat and hit another apple pipe. And that was it, my first hit and I was hooked. By no means do I think I'm addicted, I can stop tomorrow I swear. It's just fun that's all.
Ordered another latte, the woman serving me knows I'm fucked. I'm sure of it. She keeps shooting me dirty looks. Bitch. She's just jealous that she has to dye her hair that tacky blonde colour she is, and my hairs naturally white blonde. I suppose it could also be because I smell of booze and sex, oh well. Right, concentrate on keeping legs from shaking. Another sip of coffee, God the coffee is just disgusting here. Right another first.
A year or so after the first joint I was fully immersed in my new stoner lifestyle. My dreads were coming on nicely, my wardrobe was now fully veggie friendly, no leather, everything hemp. To be honest it was bloody itchy, but I never do a phase half-heartedly.
I was at some party we'd managed to chat our way into, my friend Tara developed early and she used this to her advantage.
We drank and danced and flirted with boys far older than us and no one seemed to notice I was younger. I felt utterly in my element. As the night went on me and this boy called Damien (or maybe Daniel I don't remember really) got to talking, I told him about why legalising weed would change the world, he told me about how he became a drug dealer and why his mum and dad broke up. I told him about my sister, Ella, dying.
We talked and cried and smoked spliffs till the early
I remember yawning and telling him I had to sleep. He told me he wasn't ready for sleep yet, and that I shouldn't be either, and that's when he offered me a line of MDMA.
I knew what MDMA was from the talk the policeman gave us in school. The policeman told us it was an A-Class drug and I'd go to jail for some ridiculous stretch. But I was already breaking the law, I was high, I was drunk and I was out way past my curfew.
He called it Mandy, and Mandy and I made firm friends that night. I was awake for the next two days buzzing in a way I haven't been able to achieve since. I don't know at what point I left Damien or how we got back to Tara's but I knew that I loved this drug
I still wonder what Damien is up to, I wonder if he knows how much he affected my life in that one short evening. I wonder if he ever thinks about me.
That was eight years ago now. Unfortunately I haven't grown up much in that time, I still spend my evening getting fucked up with strangers. Chatting shit and wondering about life.
Ben thinks it's all a waste of my talent, blah blah blah. I started a journalism course at university after acing my A levels. It wasn't for me, everything had caught up with me and I couldn't be in education anymore. I don't think that's a bad thing, it's a break, I'm not ruling it out forever, but Ben is still pissed about it despite the fact I left a year ago!
I think to be fair he's more pissed about the fact I haven't really got myself a proper job yet. I mean I work in a café on Mondays and Wednesdays and I occasionally sell a few dime bags but I suppose he's right. But I don't want to grow up yet. It's dull.
That fucking waitress is still staring at me. Oh Jesus, she's
walking over here. Look down, sip my coffee. 'Excuse me
miss'. 'Yes?' She looks at me intently, fuck my
voice is slurry. 'It's a very busy day and you've been sat
here almost 3 hours with that coffee, you need to buy another or
leave so other people can sit down'.
I didn't even know they were allowed to do this! 'Well fuck you and your shitty café then' I pick my coffee up and smash it on the floor, I don't even know why I'm doing it. The girl looks shocked 'Miss, you're going to have to pay for that'. Well fuck her, I'm not paying for shit, I think I've got some coins in my pocket, a pound coin and seven pence. Bollocks, not even enough for the two coffees. I chuck that at her too. 'Screw you' I'm screaming and I don't know why 'Have this, it's all your shitty coffee was worth!'.
I'm storming out the door, I have literally no idea why I did that, the poor girls too shocked to even follow.
Bollocks to this, I need some coke. I can't go home though. Better go see Beret. Beret was my first proper dealer and I'm always loyal, plus he does the best coke around. He's only a ten minute walk away, but walking is boring as hell sober. Everything is boring sober, mind you. I don't even have my Ipod. Okay then, I'll tell you another first.
I won't go into the gory details of my first time. We've all been there, well most of us. It hurt, it wasn't as fun as they made out and I was left disappointed.
I never regretted it and I didn't get upset when he didn't even sleep the night, I was just kind of pissed no one had told me it wasn't all that great. Obviously it gets better, and of course I love sex now. But then, it was just a let-down.
I met this guy at a pub I wasn't supposed to be in. He chatted me up, I tried to ignore him. When he's hands started going up my skirt, I just thought, fuck it. Why not? You've got to lose it sometime, why not to this guy. He doesn't know me, he won't judge me tomorrow and even if he does, I won't know about it.
I brought him back to the cabin my parents had built me in the garden. I was 15, he was 18. I had not a single clue what to do, but I'm stubborn and I didn't want to let on, so I whacked out every move I'd seen on the TV, on my laptop and I played the part.
After he finished he just got up, put his clothes on, said thanks and left. I lay in bed naked, I was convinced I was missing something. It just wasn't all that it had been cracked up to be. Someone really should have warned me then that the big O is harder to achieve than you'd imagine, and most boys just can't be bothered to try!
And that was that, no longer a virgin, yet still just as confused about sex (if not more so) as before.
Berets house is a flat on the top of the tallest and ugliest tower block ever to be created. He claims 'it's got great views' but there is nothing to look at from there, some other shanty looking buildings and on a really good day you can almost see the sea. It's not the kind of place I'd live, but he's always high, so his standards aren't.
We call him Beret because, imaginatively, he wears a beret. A souvenir from his army days. I've spent many hours being lectured on the horrors of war, and I've heard the story about how he lost his arm in a roadside bomb about a billion times. But he means well and he fought for our country so I don't mind giving him the time of day. Plus it means he gives me bigger bags.
Today though, I tell him I can't stay and chat, in and out, simple. As I walk back down the stairs I think about how to make it up to Ben. Chocolates and flowers? Or does that only work on girls? Oh god, that's all I can think of. Pathetic. I do my best to tidy myself up as I walk. I brush out my hair and tie it up, I sit down on a park bench and apply my makeup. I'm brushing the shit off my dress as I get to the door.
Where the fuck are my keys? I won't knock because he'll know I've lost them and then he'll be cross about that too. Balls. I empty my purse onto the doorstep and kneel down to rifle through it. Nope, not here. I'm so screwed. I need to pull myself together before he sees me.
The door swings open.
'Hi Ben, this isn't what it looks like, I mean I do have my keys, I just don't know where, so I kind of don't have them but it's not like they're lost or anything…' Oh my god why am I still talking? '…I didn't want to knock and disturb you if you were you know erm... busy.' Well that went well.
He looks annoyed but he doesn't say anything, he just turns and goes inside. I follow sheepishly. I'm already in trouble with him for last night. Which for your information was not my fault at all.
He was working so I invited my best mate Makenzie round. Ben loves Makenzie but at the same time he doesn't really love us as a pair. Kenzie is beautiful, she's tall and dark. Blessed with caramel skin from her Brazilian heritage. She is completely fucking nuts.
We drank too much and decided to take some coke. Always a bad
idea with Kenzie involved. She called this guy she's trying to
fuck and got him to come over. He brought his mates with him.
Long story short, Ben came home from his night shift at the
hospital to find his girlfriend coked off her face whilst her
best mate was having a fully clothed orgy in the corner!
To be fair to him, if it had been the other way round I'd have been pissed, but only because he hadn't invited me. Anyway the point is, he's angry so I must be on best behaviour.
'Bennnnn'. I coo at him 'how about a lovely steak for dinner? And I can roll you a spliff?' He still isn't talking to me, just sat reading some leaflet about another nurses training course. I hate being ignored. 'how about a blow job then?'. That got his attention, he looks up at me.
'You know , Aria, not everything can be solved by you sucking my dick. Sometimes you have to talk to me like an adult.' I hate being an adult, what's wrong with not wanting to grow up? I kneel in front of him and bat my eyelids like a moron. 'oh but ben, you know you want to..' I slide my hands from he's knees to his belt. He frowns at me as I unzip his jeans, but the frown doesn't last long.
Who says not everything can be solved by sex?
First Best Friend
My first best friend was probably my baby sister Ella. She was only a year younger than me, so I never really had any childhood without her, we were inseparable.
Our older brother called us the gruesome twosome, and we did our very best to live up to it. We wreaked havoc wherever we went, spent our whole lives climbing trees, scraping our knees, covering ourselves in dirt and loving every minute.
She was always girlier than I was though, I used to have to help her brush her hip length blonde hair, and braid it so it didn't fly in her face. She used to spend hours making me bracelets and necklaces with her bead collections. Once she decided my room needed jazzing up so while me and my mum were in the garden she used her crayons to paint me a full princess mural on my wall! Mum went mental, but I loved it.
That was all a long time ago, and I haven't been able to do anything like that with Ella in a long time, I haven't been able to anything with Ella in a long time.
But I think choosing my sister is kind of a cop out though. My first non-related best friend wasn't till primary school. Her name was Erin.
We were both tomboys, when the other girls were dancing, we were playing football. When they were playing horsey, they named theirs Pansy and Daisy, we named ours Shadowfax and pretended we were fighting orcs.
We both had the same favourite dinosaur, none of the other girls even had a favourite dinosaur! We would spend every weekend on bug hunts around the garden or on nature walks with my dad, picking out bird sounds, hunting out snakes in the long grass.
But all good things come to an end, her family upped and moved to Australia when we got to the end of primary school and that was that, never saw her again. Strange how someone can be next to you, holding your hand one minute, and gone forever, the next.
My friends now are very different, Kenzie is my best friend. We are like peas in a pod. Despite the fact we're the same height and our shoe size is the same, we look very different. She works in an office, so her caramel body is normally draped in blouses, pencil skirts and beautiful red soled heels. Her dark hair is cropped in a pixie cut that frames her elfin face, and she has a piercings all the way up one ear.
I on the other had have long curly blonde hair, I don't have a job yet so no requirement for heels and posh clothing, I live in long skirts, a million layers and as much junk jewellery as I can fit round my neck. My piercings are minimal, a single nose stud, but my tattoos stretch down from my shoulder to my wrist, each section a little reminder of a person or a time.
We met in college in our first year, we spent the entire year sat on the college field, getting high, and talking about boys. What else? We are both fuck ups and that suits us just fine.
Mila and Ebony make up the rest of our little group. Mila is now studying to be a lawyer, she's very sensible these days and I'm sure she's going to be a fantastic lawyer. But on her nights off from study she is wilder than anyone I know. If you ever want to find Mila at a party, she's the girl talking life and philosophy in the kitchen with anyone who can still hold a real conversation, pissed on red wine and popping pills between sips.
To be honest, if you want an intellectual and truly fascinating conversation, Mila is your girl. Sometimes though she's a bit heavy going, which is why we have Ebony.
Ebony is a tiny little ginger thing. She looks adorable. It's not an opinion either, you can't see her without giving a little 'awhh'. She's bubbly and sweet, and despite her orange hair, you'd swear she was a natural blonde. Her parents are incredibly rich and bought her a bakery to run, so she spends her days baking and decorating, and I couldn't imagine her dong anything else.
Ebony is the relief you need from this world, a little ray of sunshine. Just a really fucking dippy one.
Tonight is Friday, so it's ladies night. None of the girls have work tomorrow and, well, I don't work so that makes it easy. Tonight we've found a party to go to, an old school friend is turning 22 tonight and we're celebrating in style, he's hired big marquees to put on his parents estate. His brother's band are playing and his parents are out of the country.
Every girl has their own routine for getting ready. Ours is as follows.
Step 1 - We group together, wine is purchased and we pick up our poison of choice. Today it's red wine and pills.
Ebony starts glugging the first bottle of red wine on the way home, her tiny little body gets hit so quickly and by the time we're home she's pissed. ' Ariaaa…' she coo's 'Aria, are you listening to me you fucker?'
'Yes I'm listening' I manage to say through a laugh 'Right, well I'm just trying to tell you I love you. That was all, misery guts'. I turn round and pick her up, hanging her over my shoulder, she giggles like an infant and I run the rest of the way home with her on my back.
Step 2 - We start on outfits, this involves many catwalks, lots of wine and our first pill.
Obviously we start the music now, as much up beat and party appropriate music as we can think of. We actually have our own CD that we burn songs onto as and when we hear them. It's a fab collection and a night out wouldn't be complete without it.
Tonight I've chosen a black maxi dress, lots of gold jewellery and trainers for comfort. Kenzie is in the tightest and shortest red dress I've ever seen, and a zip the full way down the front. 'I don't get the fucking zip Kenz!' slurs Ebony. 'It's for easy access to my sexy fucking bod babes' says Kenzie, sliding her hands along her outline, wiggling her hips side to side. Ebony laughs so much she falls off the bed.
'You know Kenz, you shouldn't have to flaunt your body like that just to prove your femininity, you're a strong independent woman, you don't need men's approval, they shouldn't be falling for your looks anyway, and you have a lot to offer.' Mila is ranting, she loves a bit of the old feminism
'Shut up Mila you old bore!' Kenzie is half shouting half singing 'I dress like this because I'm fucking hot! Plus, I like it when they drool over me' she gives us a cheeky wink. 'Don't you get bored being ignored? You've got to ditch the jeans and blazer combo, babe. Jazz it up a bit!'
'OOOOOOOH!' Ebony squeals 'I've got the perfect dress for you honey, it's so so so pretty. Oh my gosh, wait here' Ebony skips to the wardrobe, pulls the door open and starts searching. Kenzie and I wrestle Mila on to the bed and start dragging her clothes off. She shouts in protest but she doesn't put up enough of a fight and ends up leaving the house in a short fully sequined dress. She looks incredible, if not a little moody about it. She is in utter denial of her body that girl.
Ebony wears a cropped white blouse and a neon pink skater skirt with killer heels. And that's it for step 2. We are dressed. Outfits are now locked in for us, we made that rule a few years ago to stop us overthinking our outfits.
Step 3 - Now it's for makeup, this bit is quick for me, I always wear the same. Deep red lips, black pin up style eyeliner and a dab of powder on my face, that's it. So while the other girls play with their faces for a half hour, I rack up a few more lines or pop a few more pills and get myself ahead of the game.
Step 4 - My favourite step. We do a catwalk for each other, up and down our rooms, rating each of us. Never any less than a 10 of course! We play one final dance floor filler and pop our second pill (Well they do, it's my fourth, I think)
And that's it, we are ready. I give Ben a call as we leave. Goes straight to answerphone, his phone must be dead. I leave a message ' Hey baby, just heading out, I won't be home till early morning so if I don't see you before you go to work, I'll have a surprise for you when you get home' I try my most seductive voice, so he knows exactly what the surprise is, then I hang up.
'Let's go bitches!' Kenzie screams.
The night is fucking amazing, we dance, we sing, we take more drugs. I feel on top of the world, lights flash around me, running over my skin, and I swear I can feel the light seeping into my skin, the colours running through my veins.
I am absolutely gone, the people and the music and the lights have blended into a singular sensation. My eyes focus to Kenzie's face in front of me. She sticks her tongue out and I see the pill on the end of it, she kisses me, pushing the pill just to my lips and I take it from her. She winks, and leaves.
The hours are whizzing past, its 2am now, I've found myself sat at a table with Mila, who's lecturing some boy on why he shouldn't be looking at her tits instead of her face when she's talking 'connection is all in the eyes, you know? I just don't know if you really care what I'm saying or whether you just want me'.
I can see the boys bag of coke in front of him, I poke him and point for the bag 'Yeah, sure sure' he mumbles as he launches for Mila and they end up rolling on the floor, mouths pressed together. Apparently he did just want her. Good for her! I snort a line, feeling the powder burst at the back of my nose. I do another line, and another. Before I know what's going on I've finished the bag.
My heads pounding, I don't feel good. I try to calm myself. I focus on rolling a cigarette. My hands shake and it takes me hours. I pull out my lighter and drag in, the smoke fills my lungs. I still feel horrible, I've never felt this awful.
I go for my makeup bag, putting on my makeup is such a routine, it always makes me feel more together, more sober. But now I look at my eyes in my mirror and it makes me feel ill.
I dial my phone for Ben. It rings and rings and rings. I try again, as his answerphone message starts playing, I collapse.
A flash of Mila' panicked face.
'KENZIE!! GET THE FUCK OVER HERE'
Hands on me, too many and my brain can't work it out. I'm on my side.
A flash of red and blue.
'Hello love, can you hear me? My names Helen. I'm here to help'
Another bright flash, beeps are filling my ears, someone's holding my hand. I can feel the engine running.
First hospital trip
I was 13, I fell out of a tree because Ella had dared me to climb it like a sloth. A bad idea.
I shattered my arm completely. I had a pin put in and a cast on for weeks. I choose a pink cast, because it was Ella's favourite colour. We spent hours drawing pictures on the cast, she wrote me a little note
'hope it feels all better soon love you to the moon and back forever'
I got that in her handwriting as my first tattoo.
Staring up at the hospital ceiling now, I can only wish I'd broken my arm this time.