Category: Sarah


002 019Sarah, 2011.

Edited Audio Transcript:

Sarah: I’m homeless… I, um… I’m 55, I have a Master’s degree in psychology but after my husband of 20 years, Mother, and Father, uh, died in a car accident two, two years ago, I uh lost my home of twenty some years in Mount Holly, New Jersey, I lost my entire family, my career, um, my health, all in one fell swoop. Uh, yeah.

JS: How long have you been down here on the ave?

Sarah: About a year and a half.

JS:  What’re you doing down here?

Sarah: Nothing, uh prostituting.

JS:  To, to uh?

Sarah: To eat. To eat.  Well, I am on methadone maintenance for pain management, I start with, my back’s broken in five places, I have a rod in it and my knees are crushed, my pelvis is crushed.  So I start with, uh, when I had my good insurance, my good job you know, I had, went to the good doctors who gave me the good, uh, medication.  Now I’m on the bad, you know, uh, insurance with the bad medication and the bad doctors, that uh, that are trying to convince me that I am bad, you know, there is something wrong with me because I must be a drug addict because, uh, I became addicted to these pain medications. Well, I’m sorry, that’s, that’s not my belief. People take pain medications every day and must take them.  And of course you’re addicted to them, of course you are.  You know, if you take, uh, a murder a day, you’re addicted to it.  That’s a joke down here.

Excuse me, I’m unhappy, I have nothing. I sleep on the ground, you know, I wake up in and, uh, this morning, in the morning and I say good morning to people “Good Morning, Good Morning” and they’re like, they look at you like they wanna say “Fuck you!”  I’ve never seen a city, see I’ve been to a lot of cities, all over the world, I’ve never seen a city as miserable as this, never. And I think it must be poverty.  It has to be poverty in conjunction with… What?  You know what I’m saying, in this city, the problem, the problem here, I believe with drug use is what’s behind the drug use.  Self-loathing and, uh, just loathing in general, you know and, why, why the f not? You know, my life sucks, no matter how I feel I ain’t giving in…

This is like my bedroom, and immediately as soon as I go to sleep here, “oh she’s fucked up on some drug” you know, “she’s high”, and they call the ambulance and they wake me up, and they jostle me and they hit me with Narcan, which is the worst feeling in the world, you know.  What it does is it immediately sucks all the opiates out of your body which means not only any pain killers you may have in you, but your natural opiates too.  And uh, so I’m on methadone maintenance so it sucks every, every bit of  pain, um, out of my body and makes me vomit, makes me, uh, cold, uh and that and that feeling stays with you for 48 hours and they threaten me with this Narcan, everytime they see me.  Yeah, you know they threaten me, you know, “Get out of, if you don’t get out of here we’re gonna give you Narcan.” You know and it it’s like ridiculous and I just wanna say, “Who the fuck are you?” You know, but you can’t, you dare not say anything…

I got uh beat up by one of the prostitutes down here.  Happens all the time.  She uh, her and this black prostitute… wanna beat me up all the time.  And they think, they think that I think I’m better than everybody else, there’s some kinda psychosis going on there, because um I’m educated and I don’t, I’m the proper talking white girl, that’s what they call me, the proper talking white girl, and you know, I’m only who I am and I’m not gonna change that. I’m, I’ve been, all my life I’ve been told by different, countless therapists, I’m ambivalent. You’re ambivalent.  What the hell does that mean, that I change my mind? Yeah of course I change my mind, I’m a human being, We’re forever fluid aren’t we? I thought we were supposed to be…

“Don’t you know about the risks?”  Haha, sure, No I don’t know about the risks.  Even a 5th grader knows about the risks.  Haha, this stupid bureaucracy, “don’t you know about the risks?” When I go and try and get housing. “Don’t you know about the risks?” Haha. No, I don’t, I don’t know. I have a Master’s degree, but I don’t know about the risks. I did, I worked as an AIDS educator before AIDS was AIDS. In the very beginning of, the late 70s, I was in the northeast corridor. I worked there, I worked in the northeast corridor of New Jersey between New Jersey and New York. At that time every AIDS patient had to be documented with the county and when they would call for an ambulance the ambulances would not pick them up. The ambulances would not touch them, I drove, I can’t tell you how many AIDS patients I drove to the hospital in my car, because the ambulance would’nt pick them up because they had a PCP, pneumonia, or whatever.  And uh, and now I’m the person they don’t wanna pick up, not because I have AIDS, but because they just don’t wanna, they just don’t wanna to pick me up.  I’ve held the hand of so many dying people, who’s gonna be here to hold my hand…

JS: Here’s some photographs.

Sarah: Wow. Wow. Mary, she calls me mom.  I’m her street mom.  I’m everybody, I’m a lot of people’s street mom.  I’m, all these young hookers, I’m their mom.  They always when they see me they go “Mom, are you alright? Mom, mom, are you alright? Don’t you fuck with my Mom. Is anybody fucking with you today mom?”  They need somebody.


Sarah, 2009.

Audio Transcription

Sarah (talking on my cell phone):

Will you come and get me either way?

Babe, but you don’t ever answer your phone, I mean, how am I gonna know if you’re coming or not?

All right, I’ll call you at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. Will you answer your phone? All right, and if you don’t hear from me it means I don’t have any change. You meet me at Huntingdon and 12th? Well… I mean yes. All right, I’ll call you at ten but if not, if you don’t hear from me pick me up at twelve o’clock at Huntingdon all right? All right, make sure you answer your phone. All right and I’ll see you at twelve. If you don’t hear from me it means I can’t call you and I’ll be waiting for you at twelve at Huntingdon. And I’ll sit there until you get there. I miss you, I want to be able to see you. All right, I’ll see you tomorrow. All right, love you too. Bye.

Jeffrey Stockbridge: Who’s that?

Sarah: Huh, oh my ex. He lets me stay, like I don’t have a place to live. Um, I pay people by the night to stay in their house and I haven’t been able to make any money since yesterday and I do heroin and I’m dope-sick, I’m starving, I don’t have any cigarettes, I don’t have any bus fare to get to Trenton, that’s where he’s at.

I’ve been out here on and off for uh five years, I’ve been using heroin for ten.

JS: What got you started on heroin?

Sarah: Umm, my daughters father left, I went into a major depression stage, and I, I was almost 300 pounds, I started sniffing cocaine, and then um somebody said, here try this and so I started sniffing heroin. I sniffed for a couple years and then my ex shot me up while I was sleeping, so I started shooting up after that. I’ve been shooting ever since.

I, I , I live uh day to day. If I don’t make money to pay somebody to stay in their house I stay in an abandoned house or I just stay up for a couple days, um, I can go a couple days without eating and uh, my family, they love me but, I can’t live with them. I have a ten year old daughter…

That’s my daughter and that’s my niece. And um, these are two of my four sisters. She’s pregnant and uh she’s the one who my parents, my dad just go laid off, so my parents live with her. My daughter lives with her and she’s getting ready to have a baby so there’s no room for me and I don’t really have any other family so I don’t have anywhere to go. Plus, on top of that, the fact that I have an addiction makes everything worse cause who wants to help anybody who has an addiction? I’m not a thief, I don’t rob anybody. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to but I just can’t bring myself to do that, you know what I mean. I’m not out here cause I want to be, and I certainly don’t enjoy it. Matter of fact this is the worst, loneliest existence that there is in the world.

I want to go to Detox but I’ve tried with my insurance and they only give you a certain amount of time and the time it takes you know, the hour or two it takes to come up with a measly ten or twenty bucks, you know, you get what you need to get and you have to do it all over again. I do about twelve bags of heroin a day.

JS: What do you charge your clients?

Sarah: Um, anywhere’s from twenty-five to.. I’ve gotten as much as a hundred bucks but um, I’ve been ripped off, I’ve been robbed, I’ve been raped, I’ve been stuck up, I’ve been gang raped, I’ve had a gun to my head, I’ve had a knife to my neck, I’ve been put out of the car, you know, east bumble fuck, um, I’ve had a lot of stuff happen to me, a lot of bad stuff. It’s by the grace of God I’m still, I don’t have HIV, I get tested every three months, I shoot up obviously but I use brand new needles every time I do, I don’t share needles with anybody, I take precautions, I always use protection, like I don’t, certain kind of guys that I date and certain kind of guys I don’t date. Um, I have cirrhosis of the liver, and so for me heroin is more like not a drug, but kinda makes me move, it makes me able to go, and my body has become so dependent on it that when I tried to Detox cold turkey without having anything my body went, like flip flop so bad that it almost killed me. So, I can’t Detox unless I’m in a hospital somewhere. Um, I would love to be able to be clean. I’ve overdosed nine times, I was actually dead once, they brought me back, I was dead for seven minutes, and they, they brought me back. Sometimes I just wish I could go jump off the bridge, if I had enough nerve I probably would.

There’s nothing more real than this, this situation. Um, standing on the corner selling your ass and everybody knowing what you’re doing is as real as it gets. Um, girls, if you are a woman enough to get in a car with a strange man and not knowing if it’s gonna be the last man that you see, the last person you see in life, and then somebody comes up to you and says, ‘do you shoot up and you look at them and you lie and you say, ‘no I don’t do that.’ I mean, you’re a coward, because you are ballsy enough to do what you’re doing, you’re ballsy enough to give a ten dollar, ten dollar blow job you know because you’re sick, but you’re not ballsy enough to be honest about it, you know. I look at it like this. I’m taking my life in my own hands every time I do what I do. I’m humiliated by doing what I do. You know, but, unfortunately, this is the lifestyle that I chose to lead, you know and until I decide to fix it or actually fight to fix it, I’m gonna be stuck in this, in this hole, you know, and it doesn’t matter how your family loves you, or who loves you, or how many people want you to get clean, if you don’t love yourself, you don’t give a fuck, and that’s where I’m at. I just don’t. I don’t care. I have a beautiful daughter, you know and I have a nice family you know, I wasn’t raised like this, I went to Catholic School my whole life and uh, I was raised with morals and, and values and like this wasn’t one of them.

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