Maria with her family and neighbors at Kensington and Somerset, 2009.
Maria (Looking at a book of my photos): Oh my God.
Daughter: Pregnant lady.
Robert: That’s the pregnant girl?
Maria: That’s not her, that’s not her.
Robert: All these ho’s be out here.
Maria: That’s another one. Oh my God look at her arm, Jesus Christ. Oh my God, Jesus. You know that I don’t need no cable in my house. I see everything live, live.
Robert: I pray and pray and pray for the people like this. But I can’t do nothing but put them in God’s name.
Maria: I have a daughter, I’m the only one with a daughter in the building, I’m 2811 and nobody cares. People sell me, up and down, up and down, takin drugs, all over the freakin building, and I’m the only one that don’t take drugs thanks to the Lord, knock on wood, okay. I’ve been I’m been honest, very honest. I believe in the I believe in the Lord. Nobody does but I do. Okay. So far I’ve been here almost 8 years and I see a lot of bad stuff going around and I don’t, they say when you go between it, you gonna do it too. That’s a lie, but I’m, my daughter’s right now, she’s 11 years old and I’m tired of her seeing this. She got two bikes she cannot enjoy. She got, she don’t got nobody but me and her father. She don’t got no friends at all. So right now I’m about to move. Hopefully God-willing by next week we out of here.
Robert: Damn, the only people we know out here is, is junkies. Those are the only people we know out here is junk they all come up to us, you got this, you got a cup of water, can I get this, can I get that, can I get. And uh we help them. And we help them. We feed them, we give them clothing if they need clothing. If they want a cigarette if we have it we’ll give it to them you know but it, it’s it’s crazy out here.
Jeffrey: And your sittin here.
Robert: Yea, we sit here all day everyday.
Maria: Everyday we sit out here. I’ll be out here at 7 o’clock in the morning.
Robert: Yeah this is better than HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, everything combined. You don’t need no cable, you don’t have to watch TV. You just gotta sit out here. You see drama, you see soap opera, you see violence, crime.
Maria: You even see sex. Somethings that I’ve never seen before and I don’t bring my daughter out everyday outside. When I come outside, I say ‘Mommy come outside, stay a little while with me.’ But that’s about it. When I when I go in, right in, she go in. She don’t go in with nobody, she don’t like to be with strangers at all and a lot of people know, around here, they know that.
Robert: Right here, right there we seen this one guy stand right there and defecate. Right on the steps. He just stand right there and just defecate right there and we’re like, ohhh man. You know right in broad daylight I mean it’s like, and everybody’s walkin around nobody says nothin. That’s crazy. It, it’s, it’s crazy out here. I mean they sell drugs around, they sell drugs everywhere in Philly but this is like the worst spot in Philadelphia so far. They sell everything from pills to your mother. I mean, for real, they, they’ll sell your mother.
Dolly: He’s Alex. I’m Dolly and the dog’s Little Lady.
Jeffrey Stockbridge:You were struggling as an addict when you were raising your kids at the same time. And you were out here on the Ave?
Dolly:Yea. It was before I had her, but then after I had her too. See, she was born on Methadone. So she was a Methadone maintenance baby. But yea, I mean I, I think it’s easier when your, you know I mean not easier you know getting high altogether but when you’re an addict it’s a little bit easier when you don’t have children. My son was taken away from me. So, I mean he was there but then there was a certain period when he wasn’t there neither. I originally I gave him to my half-sister and she or my sister, excuse me and she gave him to my half-sister and in that time I was arrested and I was away for almost 6 months thinking that I would get my act together and I did for about 2 months and it’s really hard especially when you, when your in a relationship with somebody. Especially being married when yous are both addicted to the same thing, it it’s complicated.
My um, well I eventually got my son I, I wound up getting pregnant with my daughter and apparently I thought that was enough… Apparently that wasn’t enough because I went back out. Um, I wound up getting custody of him. I relapsed again, um that’s why I only have 16 months clean but the main thing that got me together is my mother is um, an addict and I didn’t want to turn out like my mom. And I see myself going down that road and I didn’t wanna. I was gonna, I was throwing away everything. I was throwing away my marriage, my husband had taken my daughter from me, you know my little boy goes to counseling today because of it all and I don’t, you know, I don’t want that anymore. I’m only 25 I’m too young for… you know what I mean, like I’m too young for all the drama and the chaos and I don’t want to die. That’s just, it’s not for me anymore. You know what I mean, I was living a very dangerous life. I goes, lots of times I coulda been killed. I was already hurt out there when some dealer got me high. I go to therapy for that. You know I mean I, I was doing one of the worse drugs you can do in, in the worst way, I was um, an IV user.
It all matters you know, it all depends if you really want it. You know I hit rock bottom, but I don’t want to die, that’s my main, that’s…
That’s my main thing. I don’t want to die. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna leave my children…
You know and I hurt him too much you know and, and I hurt my family too much and its just, its too much, it’s so hard to keep yourself going when your using. You know what I mean I’m not saying it’s not complicated now because I go to my clinic, I’m on Methadone maintenance. I go there every single day Monday thru Sunday faithfully everyday. And it’s a pain. Cause there’s sometimes… There’s sometimes you know I don’t have a way to get there or I don’t feel like going or just something but I get up and go cause I know I have to go. I know if I don’t go that’s where I’m gonna wind up and I don’t want that anymore.
When I first got on this clinic I traveled 6 hours a day cause I wasn’t even in Philly. 6 hours a day just to get to this clinic. I was in Norristown. And this was at Germantown and School House Lane. But I mean I, I would have traveled you know to 5th and (inaudible) just get dope, why not travel to get myself better or not better, to get myself you know normal. But that’s what I’m doin and so far its working.
You know I have days where I think about using. Or, or I have days you know that I see the girls out on the Ave, but that’s my main thing, I see these girls out on the Ave and they’re so skinny and you know they’re getting in the car with whoever and these men don’t care. They don’t care about these girls at all. You know I had many a times where I was beat up, but then I had some guys that were actually nice… I always lucked out on the Ave. That’s what I said what I’m dealing with, I’m dealing with that now.
And you know this man almost killed me. And you know, it’s so much to deal with and I think it’s hard, it is, it’s harder on women than it is on men. You know but its also, its easier to make money but the addiction and the withdraw and the pain is more severe. You know cause guys here, you know they can cover it up or whatnot, we can’t…
You know its is just a little bit more, its more complicated on women.
And what also made me want to do it, is I had all my family telling me I was not gonna do it. That I wasn’t gonna get clean and I was just gonna be this and be that and I, I pretty much I proved everybody wrong. You know cause I’m not gonna be that, that that life was not meant for me. I was mainly the person, I went out and drank, smoked pot once in a while. Doin heroin, it is not who I’m supposed to be. You know I wind up escorting and dancing and all that crap. And I got not only addicted to the drugs but addicted to the money, addicted to sex, addicted to the lifestyle period, and it’s just too much to juggle. You know, I’ve actually broke down and like literally fell to my knees praying to God because I didn’t want to do it no more. At one point I felt myself start to go crazy because day in and day out that’s where I was. Christmas morning that’s where I was, like it was pathetic and its like a shame because you can’t really, you’re not really gonna know what it’s like for a heroin addict unless you physically, mentally and emotionally feel it. And I thought that like, like when I met my husband he was, he was in recovery but I wasn’t, I had never touched it. And I used to know him and pursing around and go your dirty cause you do this… I used to you know, the girls were nasty and all and like I never understood it until I became it.
There’s people out there that I know that many a times I sat there and said I can’t do it, I can’t do it, but somebody sees that someone else is doin it, maybe it will encourage them to do it. You know what I mean, I go to meetings and I speak about it and I talk to people about it and I’m hoping one of these days, you know somebody, somebody saved me. You know and I’m just hoping that somebody hears something either from me or sees me and remembers me from before and you know well hey she did it so I can do it you know, cause every life is worth trying to save.