New Noise’s own Matthew Hutchison has penned Snap, a very real look into the life of a woman who has been pushed too far by addiction, the broken mental health and recovery system, and the curveballs life constantly throws our way. His descriptions of blue-collar life set against the gorgeous background of Southern California are nothing less than stunning and truly do capture how it feels to be surrounded by beauty but at the end of your rope.
Crescent Heights. A coastal neighborhood in Ventura two blocks from the Pacific waters, housing the city’s upper-middle class. It is dusk; the sun’s descent over the ocean reflects images seen on postcards or a tourist’s social media feed. It takes years to come to this level in life and seconds to have it ripped from you, which is what’s happening here with Larissa’s family. Cuffed in a patrol car and watching helplessly as her soon-to-be ex-husband speaks to the two police officers outside their home. Being busted for a Class-A misdemeanor is one thing: having your husband call the police on you about it is another. Larissa’s five-year methamphetamine habit culminates into public humiliation on this day.
Her husband, James, offered to get her help; she lied about quitting cold turkey. He then offered to help her again after catching her using smack in the bathroom; she refused his offer. Finally, the third time resulted in James staging an intervention and an ultimatum on her: get clean, or we are finished. Their marriage was already rocky after the move south to Ventura upon Larissa securing a national sales manager job with Oxnard based Golden State Steel Supply.
It was a move Larissa wanted to make; raising a family in the Bay Area on James’s journeyman welder’s salary and her own as a steel account executive isn’t feasible; she wants a permanent home for Thomas to buy and build equity for the family. James was initially reluctant but agreed to the move. Within two months, she secured a job with Golden State Steel Supply and worked her way up to a management position within two years of employment. Now being the primary breadwinner along with a mother brought on more stress. She needed relief or more time in the day; both would help, and crank delivered. Her energy and performance improved; her mood swings grew more unstable as her use escalated.
This moment is Larissa’s lowest; she feels dumb and ashamed. James emerges from the condominium; his right cheek is yellow and turning purple from the belt-buckle punch she decked him with earlier. The cut above his eye from her whipping a belt across his face is covered in tissue. Two neighbors peek outside their doors to the commotion going on; another face from upstairs looks down upon the sad scene of a soon-split- up family. Low point achieved.
James approaches one of the police officers and doesn’t turn to look at his wife, helplessly cuffed, in a patrol car. Thomas is inside the house in his room as all this happens; no 5-year-old should see their mother in this state. James nods towards one of the officers and heads back into the house. The police and his partner officer turn and walk back to the car. “Miss, I’m sorry this is happening,” the driver-side cop states to Larissa as the driver starts the engine. Larissa does not hear this; her eyes are glued to her house. She begins to cry as the view of her home and former life fade in the distance.
For more on Snap, check out the book’s page on Shattered Platter.
Photo courtesy of Jack C. Gregory