By Matthew Giron

                                                                               By Matthew Giron

For many months, in the midst of my heroin addiction, I lived on the embankment of the 405 freeway off-ramp in Van Nuys.  Every morning I was woken by the sounds of cars exiting the freeway, specifically their blaring car radios.  On cold days, with the car windows rolled up tightly, the sound of the radio was muffled.  I would hear the voice of a morning DJ or a familiar song coming closer to me and then faintly fading away in the distance amidst the roar of the car engines.  This would go on and on all morning.  Listening, lying in an opiate stupor, I was reminded of the life that I left behind - when I would listen to the morning radio on the way to work myself.  The sounds emanating from those cars felt like voices calling me to get clean and join the ‘land of the living’.  In a literal sense life was passing me by.  Dirty, lonely, and heart broken I so longingly wished for the things I always took for granted - morning commutes to work in bad traffic while listening to the radio.  Who would ever imagine pining for morning traffic?  It's amazing what you miss when circumstances and life situations change.

Now, clean and sober in early recovery, I'm in a much improved condition compared to those mornings waking up on the side of the freeway.  Presently, I’m blessed to be able to go to sleep well fed in a safe, clean bed.  What is far more surpassing than these material improvements, however, is the intimacy I’m developing with others.  There are people in my life today who genuinely care about my well being.  Many members of the Skid Row Running Club have become like family to me.  Perhaps most important of all is that my parents and brothers don’t have to live in daily dread from getting a phone call informing them that I’ve been hurt, or worse.  Granted, I still don't have a job (or the morning commute that goes with it), but I’m certainly ‘running’ in the right direction.

At the end of our morning runs most of the runners meet in the parking garage of the Midnight Mission to say our goodbyes and congratulate each other on a good run.  I hear some of the runners discussing their commutes to work.  I hear in the distance a runner get into their car and turn on the radio with the voice of a morning DJ blaring.  As they drive away I wave good-bye listening to the muffled sound through their closed car windows and doors.  I smile knowing that I’ve joined the ‘land of the living’ and remember back to when those muffled ‘voices’ called out to me.  The quiet things that no one ever knows.

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