In “What I Do and Don’t Remember from the Days and Nights of Endlessly Smoking Crack and Shooting Heroin,” I wanted to give the reader addiction. I wanted to transmit it like an STD. I am aware of my magical thinking as it pertains to writing, and so I settled for the lesser hope of writing about my addiction in an experiential way. I wouldn’t expect a reader to have firsthand knowledge of the world this essay inhabits and so I attempt to impart it through structure: a list.
I’m nearly finished writing a memoir-in-essays and for the sake of the collection, I needed to introduce the reader to addiction. I needed to build a world that I could call back on in later essays. Obviously, this essay isn’t about recovery nor does it explore my using relationship with Haley. Instead, I was attempting to siphon my experiences, create a highlights reel, something detailed but crackling enough for a reader to leave the piece with an emotional experience, a movie in their mind, a sort of transference.
“How do I give the reader addiction?” I asked my gut. Understandably, these are my memories and they span a decade of time. From a craft perspective, I knew momentum would be important, and the list-like structure accomplishes that goal. Also, the list allows a sense of place and time to be captured through a collage of dynamic details and scenes. It’s not like I sat down and calculated all of these particulars before writing. I simply asked the questions and began to remember my own addiction.
CHRISTIAN BODNEY lives in New York City. He/they is an MFA candidate in creative writing at New York University. He is currently nearing the completion of a collection of experimental essays/memoirs. He has work appearing in Hobart, Ninth Letter, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Sonora Review. Find him on Instagram @sisyphus.is.happy.