The Blizzard I Was Before My 21st Birthday

Gabriel Torres

Dec 5, 2018 · 5 min read
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A blizzard hit New Jersey on March 13, 2016, that same day my mother was hospitalized and the bare film production about meth addiction I was directing crumbled into pieces. Any substance abuser who has a bit of respect left in him would think twice before publicly stating what his correlation with his substance is. Nonetheless, my own experience is now most needed to open a new channel and discuss an epidemic blossoming through my community, the LGBTQI community.

I was introduced to drugs at the age of fifteen in September 2012. It had been a year since I decided to move back to South America from the States, and I was emotionally moved by a certain inexplicable passion towards Spanish and how romantic Spanish theater seemed to be. I hardly won the approval of my mother, who at the time happened to be living in New York. With some cash under my pocket and a head full of air, I ventured back into Bogota, Colombia. And in no time, young me starred in a teenage Soap-Opera playing a popular Reggaeton singer. This was the beginning of an influential and highly destructive part of my life.

There’s no stereotype short enough to describe my whereabouts with the entertainment world of Colombia. It just took me straight into that pitiful hole we call “Nightlife,” and, soon enough, I went from cheesy aspiring actor to self-proclaimed Club Kid. How did it happen? Easy: One of my colleagues happened to know every single club owner in the city, and one night — avoiding the subject of me not being of age yet — he took me to one. Strangers took me by surprise with pills under my tongue and powders I had only seen in movies. Suddenly, somehow, all the stress, the desires, the anxiety, the depression and passion I had lived with and seen in every single individual of my family disappeared.

It took less than a year before I crumbled into pieces. My diet included a daily bag of spicy Doritos, a dose of Ketamine, and half an ecstasy pill we called “Superman.” One morning, after two days of dancing, I lay in bed and simply realized it was a choice between “getting out” or “fully succumbing.” I called my mom. I left Colombia and returned to the states…

Dear reader: You see, sometimes stars align in certain moments of life or points in our timelines where certain individuals just happen to be in the exact place on the exact date where they should not be…

I came back to New York in the summer of 2014, right about when the new epidemic of methamphetamine — or, as I am more used to calling it, “Crystal” or “T,” or in my now more common context, “ParTy” — sprouted in my community. If you ever happen to walk down the infamous streets of Hell’s Kitchen and find yourself in a bar where the old queer men lay with a smile after a long day of failure, and if you engage in conversation with any of these men, you may be bound to listen to one or two popular stories: of how meth seems to be a seasonal corrupted epidemic. The elderly say it comes once every ten years and cleanses our community; they say it takes the best of us — meaning almost all of us. And once we — the few that remain — are on the verge of rock bottom, something lights up in our consciences, and we pack these addictions back into the vault of things not to touch anymore. Coincidentally, I happened to travel to New York upon a great reopening of the vault!

When you smoke meth, in comparison with any other substance, all, I tell you: ALL blows away. Fear, bad decisions, morals, empathy — it all goes away, and a simple emptiness invades you. It almost feels as if you were floating in space watching the stars move through you. All you have is what is in front of you, and after that begins to bore, your darkest desires appear so you can feed upon them.

The first time, I was out for four days. I visited orgies, threesomes. I walked the streets and observed the city in ways I had not seen before — not on substances, not even when I was in love. My diet was comprised of only water and another T blow. This feeling: on and off, on and off, lasted two years.

Crystal ripped from me relationships, friends, family, opportunities, emotional connections, and the individuality that made me my own self. It introduced me to places I had not even seen in nightmares. However, it also taught me how to empathize with those whose suffering rivaled mine, those who lacked the physical and mental ability to overcome any type of self-consuming situation.

December 2016, I’m out for a week. In a hotel room in midtown New York City, thousands of dollars spent and my wallet sore. My family worried now, knowing of my “condition,” I take a cab back into New Jersey, something breaks inside. I’m salivating a thick white liquid and choking on my own hideous smell. The taxi stops, I open the door and run away, my skin burns, I feel needles all over my body, I faint…

After two years of “being in control,” at the brink of death, I decided to look for help. This path lead me to spend every dollar I had left into producing a failing short movie of what drug use meant to me and how alienation of subjects like myself builds up into the cause & effect.

On March 13, 2017, I found myself on a movie set, this time not as a cheesy soap opera actor but as a conscious maker of what is rooted in my heart. On March 13, 2017, my mother was hospitalized and almost died due to feces spreading through her body and a perforation in her thin intestine caused by the stress I had given her with my drug use.

On March 13, 2017, I turned 21 years old, and as I observed the blizzard streaming past the window, I understood it was just the beginning of a new dawn.

Spring Issue 2018


Eleven and a Half Journal

A student-run literary magazine from Eugene Lang College at…

Eleven and a Half Journal

A student-run literary magazine from Eugene Lang College at The New School. We publish works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art and translation from students, faculty, and beyond.


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Eleven and a Half Journal

A student-run literary magazine from Eugene Lang College at The New School. We publish works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art and translation from students, faculty, and beyond.