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Entry date: 5-19-2022 - Happy Birthday Dev - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Today is my stepdaughter’s birthday. Happy birthday, Devin! You’ve turned into a very cool adult, and you have a lot to offer the world. I am excited to see what you do with your talent and energy. I think you could inspire a lot of people if you choose to do so.


Devin was five when I met her and cute as a goddamn bug. She did this eyebrow thing that was adorable, too, and had charm for days. She was tiny, but mighty, and had an independent spirit that made her stand out from her siblings in a way that could catch you off guard if you weren’t ready for it. She was fierce, then in her own way, just as she is fierce now. You don’t want to mess with Dev.


As an artist, Devin has a talent that should not be ignored. She’s truly got the gift when it comes to expressing herself through art. If there was one wish I had for Devin beyond happiness, health, love, and comfort, it would be that she does something with her art professionally. I think she could truly be world class if she wants to be.


Twenty-two is a great age to be. I remember my Aunt Julie telling me when I turned 22 that it was going to be a power year for me. All double number ages, she said, are power years. I turned 22 in 1991 and, looking back, it was definitely a powerful year in my life.


I have documented here the story of going to the Dead shows on Halloween that year, for example. This was the beginning of my powerful choice making, for sure, and pushed me into a weird path for the first several months of being 22. As the year turned from 1991 to 1992, I started to realize I could not continue the path I was on, even if it was a comfortable and familiar path.


My days of being a sort of broker on the black market were coming to an end. I was miserable, too, at how I was taking the spoils of my brokering and just turning them into smoke. I was getting nowhere and had a psychological dependency on my product of choice (“they” say it’s not physically addicting and they’re right, in my opinion). I’m not sure if it was the weed or the lifestyle of laziness that I was more addicted to, but either way, I was just treading water.


I think it is fairly easy for a person who is 22 to be treading water as I look back on it. I’ve seen that pattern in several of the kids and I think our brains are still developing to a point at this age that if we are not actively involved in some sort of early career or educational goal, it is quite simple to slip into a sort of motivational coma. I was certainly there in the early part of 1992. Thirty years later, I hope Devin is not in the same headspace.


After the Dead show experience in Oakland, I took a little dance with the devil for awhile that haunted me into 1992. I liked it way too much. Now, I wasn’t fooling around with needles or anything stupid like that, but it was enough to make me aware of how easy it could be to go down a dark path.


I was working at Easy Street on Saturdays and here and there during the week if mom or Aunt Julie wanted a day off. Alexa and I weren’t paying rent at the time, so living expenses were easy. My brokering got me what I needed to smoke for free but wasn’t doing much else for me and I started seeing a scary pattern around March of that year that I didn’t like.


I was taking some unnecessary risks to make a few bucks here and there. These entailed dealing with some people I didn’t know hardly at all and moving larger amounts than I was comfortable with around the city. I was starting to get scared and felt like my luck was running out. Then my friend, Mike M., died.


Mike was a high school friend that had several bouts with cancer. I knew he wasn’t doing well and when he died, it hit me hard. It made me look at my own life with pretty excellent health and what was I doing with it? In some ways, Mike helped save me, even if he’ll never know it.


I remember seeing the pain in his parent’s faces at the funeral. I had gotten to know them pretty well as they were fans of Easy Street and just great people. Their office was right around the corner from the restaurant, and they came in a lot. Mike was such an amazing and talented guy. Seeing their look of just utter loss and knowing they were suffering woke something up in me.


That night or the next day, I can’t remember, a friend of mine called me and invited me to come over to his house. He had just scored a bunch of medical grade morphine and wanted to know if I was interested. Based on my experience in Oakland and the weeks after, I was very well aware of how much my body liked opiates. I told him I’d be over in a bit and hung up the phone.


I remember walking through the closet that connected the bedroom Alexa and I shared with the bathroom on the second floor of her mom’s townhouse where we lived. I turned on the light in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw at all. I saw someone who was about to sell his soul.


I never went to my friend’s house. Instead, I sat there and told myself that things had to change. The next day I went to Easy Street and told my mom I needed some help. We walked to doors down to our friend Katie’s barbershop (I still miss her haircuts!) and asked if she knew of a meeting I could go to and she did.


I was completely sober for the next six years. Twenty-two was a power year, for sure. It kickstarted a lot of positive things in my life. I hope twenty-two can be safer and more powerful for you, Dev. Happy birthday.


See you tomorrow.



Devin. Taken by her mama.

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