James hugs Cary Quashen as they greet each other exactly one week after James entered Quashen's rehab facility in Piru. James is nine days sober. The tattoo on his wrist reads "222," which James says is the "angel number." Katharine Lotze/The Signal
James laughs as he reads a comment left by one of his friends on the Signal's Facebook post of his story that ran on May 9. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
James listens as Cary Quashen reads aloud comments on the Signal's Facebook post of his story that ran on Tuesday, May 9. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
Nine Days Clean
After a week without heroin, with fresh face and combed hair, a much healthier-looking James reads The Signal newspaper account of his intervention.
As he lays on the top bunk of his bed, chuckling at the notion the bunk beds are like summer camp, he scans the newspaper photos of himself, shot two days into his withdrawal.
“Oh wow. I look like s--t,” he says.
At Quashen’s request, James reads the story out loud, including the part that said he ambled down the stairs.
Once read, James climbs down from the bunk.
“Here I am, ambling,” he says, revealing a rare moment - humor.
James, nine days clean, sits on his roommate’s bed. His roommate is 24 days clean.
James is smiling, laughing, talking, joking as the magic spills out of him.
That’s Quashen’s term for it. Magic.
“Right now, he’s filled with magical thinking,” Quashen says, noting he’s witnessed this phase hundreds of times in his 30 years helping addicts.
“It’s magical thinking,” he says, referring to the sudden sober realization they express about the possibilities that stand before them.
Quashen puts his hands up as if to stop the magic. “One day at a time,” he says.
James reads the Signal's story from Friday, May 5, the day he entered rehab, as he lies on his bunk bed Action Family Counseling's rehabilitation facility in Piru on Friday, May 12, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
James sits on his roommate's bed as he talks with Quashen and the Signal on Friday, May 12, 2017. James sleeps on the top bunk. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
James smiles quietly as Cary Quashen talks about recovery, and James' current "magical thinking." James wants to sign up for school to complete his GED, and get a job. Quashen warned him to slow down a bit. Katharine Lotze/The Signal