Tanyesa: I’m 38 years old. I moved to Atlanta when I was 12.
BW: What was it like growing up?
Tanyesa: Oh, I was super spoiled. My first recollection of Santa Claus was my [step] dad in a Santa Claus suit so, if my daddy’s Santa Claus, you know I’m spoiled.
BW: So, what happened when you moved to Atlanta?
Tanyesa: My mom and [step] dad were gonna get back together but they didn’t. She came to Atlanta to find a job and a place to stay. We moved to Austell and I went to South Cobb High School.
I ended up getting my GED because I brought a gun to school when I was in 9th grade. People kept messing with me and I kept getting suspended cause I kept getting in fights.
BW: How did you end up in this neighborhood?
Tanyesa: I’ve been in Pittsburgh [Atlanta Neighborhood] since I was like 25. I had started out dancing when I was 21. Started snorting powder and drinking alcohol. I was a hot mess, honey. A hot one. But, I made money.
One night I was dehydrated and I’d been snorting too much powder and had to go to Grady hospital. When I got out I couldn’t find my phone, my credit cards, or nothing. This guy came up to me and said he had somewhere for me to stay for the night. He took me up under the bridge. There was a little community there. They had everything you needed: bubble gum, condoms, everything. I ended up smoking crack for the first time that night.
BW: Rock changed everything?
Tanyesa: Yeah, pretty much. I used to cry when I couldn’t get it…
BW: Was there any day, since you’ve been out here, that really impacted your life?
Tanyesa: Yeah, when my [step] dad passed a few years ago. Um… that shook me up a little bit.
Right after that I found out about my biological father. When I did, it explained a lot to me. It explained my addiction a little bit. It explained why, when things are going good, I go off to the left somewhere and all hell breaks loose. My biological dad is schizophrenic.