Atlanta, GA
Alyssa: I was originally born in Long Island. I’ve been in Atlanta about six years, on and off the street. I came out here after I graduated and started pimping out a bunch of girls. 

BW: How did you get started doing that?

Alyssa: I used to frequent strip clubs a lot because I used to sell drugs. I just started thinking one day, “hmmm. everyone’s buying and everyone’s selling something, you know?” So I started this company where it was like the whole nude, sexy massage stuff. Obviously sex was optional because I would never make another female do that for money. 

BW: What happened to that?

Alyssa: I got addicted to drugs. I just kind of fell out of it. Drugs became more important than paying my rent and car note. With opiates, when you go through withdrawal, your whole body hurts so you can’t exactly get up and go to work if you’re dope sick. So, I lost everything then I got it back. Back and forth. 

BW: So, where are you at now?

Alyssa: I’m trying to get my business back together but I’m … living on the streets, sleeping in the squat house. I mean … I’m not even mad at it to be honest with you. Like, the past week it’s just been rainy and cold and really fucking bad and yesterday it didn’t rain, I ate all day, I made like fifty bucks. I needed a new pair of shoes. I got a new pair of shoes. Like, the universe provided. I guess I’ve just been asking for what I need in the wrong way or maybe the wrong things. I don’t know.

BW: Are you still using?

Alyssa: Yeah … when you’re on the street, what the fuck I got to lose? I’m not gonna lose my car or my house.

BW: People don’t understand that it’s just pain relief.

Alyssa: It really is! Everything is so much more tolerable.

BW: What was childhood like?

Alyssa: You know, it’s funny. I actually had a pretty good childhood it’s just my mom doesn’t realize that mental illness is a real thing so that’s always been where me and her just … we have a better relationship when we’re not around each other all the time. 

I actually had seventy days clean until two weeks ago. I was at my parents house. I mean … it’s just weird. Everyone wants me to be sober but no one wants to help me get sober.  No one wants to help take me to my meetings. No one wants to talk to me or ask me how my day is. I literally just sit in my parents house and watch television all day. It definitely makes me realize that they don’t really care if I’m there or not. 

You know, I’m OK right now. Had a good day. I got fed today. Everyone’s been fairly nice to me today. And I’m OK with that. Yeah it’d be cool to be in a house and not be out here but I learn so much more out here than I would if I went to college. I’ve learned so much about life, not going to college, not doing the normal … you know.