Magic Smoke

Wish I Were Here


Narita, Japan – April 1992

As the plane touches down in Tokyo, sobriety creeps slowly, relentlessly into my mind. The last two weeks in Bangkok are a vibrant, beautiful blur. As the plane taxis to the gate, reality hits: I’m on my way back to Los Angeles. To the constant struggle against the black hole. To the hunger and the threat of being homeless. Hard work does not automatically equal survival. At least it doesn’t for me.

After I disembark, I head for the restroom to tidy up. For the first time in two weeks, I look at myself in a clear mirror. My hair is already limp and greasy. Angry red cysts have sprouted along my jawline. I scowl and turn away. Then I force myself to look back. I glare at my reflection. I hate you. Loser.


I put my backpack in a locker and then head for…

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