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UConn vs. Duke and Me vs. Crack | Magical Shrinking

After posting about the torture of emotions, I spent much of the day thinking about the post. Thinking about the toughest things to remember. Invariably, March 1999 comes up in these thoughts. While I’m not really keen on posting too many excerpts of the book, there’s no better way to rewrite what I’ve already written in Magical Shrinking.

This excerpt makes me cry, just to remember it. The emotions behind it are so complicated, not really as clear cut as they may seem in these few paragraphs. For background, Kira is my roommate and Walt is my doctor.

           "I'm doing an excellent job of starving myself. I hadn’t given much thought to crack helping me get over the last hurdle to anorexia. Now I can go days without food. I continue to vomit, too. This has to kill me eventually.

            I've started writing letters to Walt about the things I do and the thoughts going through my head again. I first did it at K State. It makes me feel better. But he'll never see the letters. They go into a 3-ring binder. Sometimes I take them out and re-read them. I usually cry. How did things get so bad, so fast?

            Kira and I see less of Marie and Robert, and more of Joe. We meet more dealers over there, including Doc and Malik.

            I keep writing my letters to Walt. Sometimes they're short. Or very long. It would embarrass me if anyone ever read them. They're sad, and they document insanity, but they're also a window into how much he means to me. He can never read them, but it all needs to be said. It’s got to come out.

            I cry so much over Walt. He was like my dad, and he still feels that way, but I’m right at the edge of driving him away. He treats me differently now. Like I’m beyond repair. It kills me and I can’t deal with it. I need him so badly. There’s no one else in my life like him.


            On March 29, 1999, the University of Connecticut (UConn) plays Duke University for the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship. I'm a ball of nerves throughout the game. Just last night I was down at the Rouge smoking crack, talking to Joe and his friends about the upcoming game and how nervous I am.

            I smoke weed to try and calm down. I smoke cigarettes and crouch in front of the TV. By end of the second half I'm dying. If this game doesn't end soon, I'll have a heart attack. I wish for UConn to win with all my heart. I feel like I'm willing them to win through the TV.

            It's the final seconds of the game, and I'm on my knees, fists clenched and pressed against my mouth. UConn wins!

            I jump up and run around the apartment, hugging Kira, screaming "Yes!" This is such a big deal. We finally won it all! I call my grandparents in Connecticut, and we talk about the game. Now it's time to celebrate.

            We go down to the Rouge and Joe and his pals are excited for me. They watched the game in here on his black & white TV. There are hugs all around. Joe’s best friend, Willie, hands me a rock and I take out my pipe. We smoke until late in the night. Then we have to go home, because I have an appointment with Walt in the afternoon.

            It's my twenty-sixth birthday. UConn won, and now I have a session with Walt. What more could I ask for? I'm still elated over the win. I'm so excited when Walt opens the door and gestures for me to come in. As we walk into his office, I'm animated and all smiles. He's laughing and is happy for me because he knows how much I love UConn. We talk about the game and I describe what a nervous wreck I was, especially at the end.

            "Did you go out and party?" He asks.

            Please don't bring me down. "We did, but not too much. You know."

            "Weed? Coke? Heroin?" He asks.

            "Just some weed," I lie.

            He nods. I miss him so much. This office will always be the place where I feel safest in the world. I want him to be proud of me. That will never happen. I'll never do anything worthy of his pride. I know now I'll always be a fuck up. Always. I hate myself so much.

            "How much weight have you lost, Chris?" He asks.

            His question pulls me back into reality. Drugs aren’t the only way I’m fucking up. Nothing gets past him.

            "I'm not sure," I answer, honestly. "We don't have a scale. A lot, though."

            "Yeah. A lot," he looks grim. "Are you starving yourself?"

            He will never have a reason to be proud of me.

            "I am," I admit. "I'm starving myself."

            "To lose weight?" He asks. "Or to death?"

            "I don't know," I feel tearful. "Both, I guess."

            I don't want this session to end in sadness. I can't take it.

            "But, dude!" I say. "UConn won! Can you believe it? And it's my birthday!"

            “Happy birthday," he smiles at me. But I think there’s sadness in his eyes. Since it's my birthday, I give him a hug on the way out. There's no better gift I'll get today.

             I think I've become a lost cause to him. It crushes my spirit. It’s heartbreaking."


Does this entry make it clear why I’d like to speak to Walt one more time in my life? Because I was actually able to do something worthy of his pride? Many things, in fact. Did he view me as a lost cause at that point? Or was that just in my head? I may never know. And I may never be able to recall this event from my life without tears.