her2008 was a very rough year for me. I had just lost my job (which was barely taking care of the bare minimum), and I was homeless. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a home address and it hurt. I didn’t know where I would be staying from night to night. It was winter and I am very anemic. My body was literally breaking down in Georgia’s cold that year. I had just gotten a new gig at a small black owned coffeeshop on the west side of the city. I had lost everything that I had worked so hard to achieve previously. I just dropped out of college and I honestly didn’t know where my life was going. Plain and simple, I was lost…

I had no choice but to reestablishing myself. I stripped my means nearly beyond livable standards. I found a room for rent in Atlanta’s Phittsburg community. After staying in what proved to be a dangerous living situation, I found another room. It was closer to the coffee shop that I just began working at. It was so close that I could walk there. It was only a mile or so. I didn’t realize it at the time but, I moved straight to The Bluff. I made my new home in the heart of Zone 1. This is literally the toughest part of the city, the slum of slums but also… the confirmation in chivalry’s existence. I’ve gotten to know the real … One thing that I came to appreciate is that, the bluff kept me humble. Something major could happen and I literally felt like “Fukk dis shit” , “I’m over it”, then I would literally walk outside or look out my window and see something.  The personification of humility would literally make me say, ” Make yourself a cup of coffee and rethink EVERYTHING, what you’re going through is not that bad as what you just seen”.  This was where I got hip to a major problem that was plaguing one of the countries finest higher learning institutions: Heroine

I lived off of North avenue and Joseph E Lowery ( formally Ashby St.)  My living situation wasn’t glamorous, it was REAL AS HELL. This was the first place in my life that I had ever seen someone shoot heroine into their veins. I’m talking live and in” living color”. I would often notice young white kids either walking down Donnel Lee Hollowell (formally Bankhead highway) or riding though the roughest parts ( coincidentally my back yard… Literally Paines Avenue). I would often think like, “Why are they here, they must NOT be “knowing”…). I was so wrong. They knew exactly where they were.  They only come to the bluff for one of three things: to score the drugs, (mainly heroine), purchase sex, or the illegally dump garbage.  I lived in this environment for more than 2 years. One morning around the hour of 7am, I awoke early to start my day. My crazy relationship with insomnia often kept me sleepless yet functional. I remember looking outside of my bedroom window and seeing a “transaction” go down.  I watched a friend of my neighbor serve this young, scrawny white boy some drugs. When the deal was done, the dealer left. The white boy stayed in the back yard and proceeded to shoot up on the stoop. I was frozen. I watched the whole thing through my bedroom mini blinds. I watched him strap up his arm and search for a good vein. I saw him fill the syringe. I watched him inject this addictive poison into his body intravenously. He sat there for 5 minutes after he was done with the needle barely in his hand. The only thing that I could think of was Lorenz Tate shooting up as Franky Limon in “Why do Fools fall in Love” He’d untie his arm, pulled himself together and  staggered off aimlessly through The Bluff, back in the direction of Tech. This became this young man’s ritual. I watched him do this a few times in the early morning hours there after.

I was cool with a lot of people in the bluff. I didn’t chill or hang with just anybody. My “face card” was good and recognized. I was always aware of my surroundings, I was comfortable but not too “laxed”. The Bluff kept me humble and willing to listen and look at any lesson that God had in store for me to learn. It’s amazing how receptive you are when you have been stripped of everything. One thing that I learned is that, the bluff has a very interesting history. Back in the day the Bluff and Techwood were both known to be the two largest traps in Atlanta. Techwood =cocaine, The Bluff= Heroine. That changed when the Olympic games came to Atlanta in 1996. That year,  the United State’s first government housing project EVER, Techwood Homes, was demolished. The Georgia Dome was just officially built a few years earlier and the old Braves baseball stadium would soon be torn down to make space for the new stadium. When Techwood Homes was demolished, that  area would began it’s re-gentrification process. Gentrification in Atlanta isn’t new. I don’t know why people act surprised. Look at Techwood. The whole Techwood Homes/ Tech Drive area on the west side of town is now, “Tech Land”. You see nothing but college life and greenery EVERYWHERE. You would never think that Techwood was the  cocaine trap and it was BUNKIN before its demise in the 90’s.

The bluff is literally across the light. Northside Drive is the street that separates Zones 1 and 2. “Tech Land” is walking distance to the bluff. If you stay on North Avenue and Cross over Northside Drive, you literally see the economic change. Today, the Bluff is the heroine trap of Atlanta.  I’ve been wanting to write this story ever since I’ve first seen that college student. I got discouraged and thought, who’d believe me if I wrote a story talking about this problem that is going on?  My eyes don’t lie. I’ve seen several scenarios with different students all coming to the ‘hood to get high in peace, away from the facade…

Picture source

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