Natalie: Hunts Point, Bronx

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    Natalie, 41, grew up in a strict Italian Catholic family in Westchester. From the age of fifteen, when she first faced criminal charges, she has been "messed up with heroin and crack." As we walked around Hunts Point she showed me pictures of her grown son, now in college, who was raised by her parents. She happily described him as a "wonderful, straight geek, the smartest, best kid a mother could hope for."

    Now on methadone, she told many stories of the "hell that comes with drugs." A few years ago, after a long week of drugs, she was at the end. Her friend, who she shot up with, was HIV positive. She took the needle, withdrew his blood, and injected herself. "I wanted to kill myself with AIDS. How fucked up is that? I woke up from that and said 'Natalie, you have hit the bottom.'" She has Hepatitis C but not AIDs.

    After finishing her Cup O Soup ("The food of addicts!") she walked half a block to throw the trash in a can. "You want to see something crazy, I am homeless person who doesn't litter. Never have, never will."

    I post people's stories as they tell them to me. I am not a journalist. I don't try to verify, just listen.

    More on Addiction: Faces of Addiction

    ramzy zahoual, hellgah!, Gryphes, and 61 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 7 more comments

    1. cnlkurtz 38 months ago | reply

      Another engaging story and great pic. I love the detail of the eyes, the wind in the hair moment and the bokeh! Thanks for sharing.

    2. gtpete63 38 months ago | reply

      if you don't read the story the image depicts a seemingly happy woman. Funny how some of your strangers can still manage a smile despite their appallingly desperate lives. another great life story.

    3. caymanmamma 38 months ago | reply

      Wonderful pic of Natalie and such a touching story. I have so admiration for you Chris in telling their stories with such compassion and without judgement.

    4. [~Bryan~] 38 months ago | reply

      I like the story behind, great portrait.

    5. lefiligree 38 months ago | reply

      i wonder what will happen to her. a son who is doing well is something to be proud of, even from afar

    6. GHOSTFACE-FVK!! [deleted] 38 months ago | reply


    7. Hayes Peter Mauro 38 months ago | reply

      Another moving narrative and a great shot Chris!

    8. Chris Arnade 38 months ago | reply

      Thanks everyone. Natalie and other addicts constantly remind me of the resilience of the human spirt.....

    9. cgullz 38 months ago | reply

      great details, great image, love the shot actually.

    10. Studio d'Xavier 38 months ago | reply

      With each new portrait Chris, I think I have a new favorite.

      Somehow I think Natalie will remain at the top for a while.
      She might be my waitress, or the girl at the convience store except for a few bad choices.

      What a real and vital portrait. I can't help but like her, and i feel you've really captured her spirit in this one.

    11. AH in Pgh 38 months ago | reply

      I just realized who she looks like, the young Patty Duke (who is now 65, if you can believe that).

    12. Sean P. Sweeney 38 months ago | reply

      You got her to smile. Treasure that. Great share.

    13. Frank Fullard 38 months ago | reply

      A sad story but what strikes me as remarkable about it - and the same holds true of many of the stories you relate from this series - is how she wants to be, and is, positive. She expresses it in reference to her son and her attityde to littering at one level. At another she expresses it visually in her smile and you have helped her greatly in doing so by virtue of the empathy that emerges from your composition and its presentation!
      Thanks for sharing this series here!

    14. c. Walker jr 37 months ago | reply

      Hate to tell you this: but you're a jounalist.


    15. Oskarsteinn 37 months ago | reply

      Wow all these stories have so much meaning and then we have these wonderful photos, this is wonderful journalism :)

    16. Sandra Saquero 36 months ago | reply

      Wonderful story, nice portrait.

    17. angie_de 32 months ago | reply

      truly amazing. breathtaking, actually

    18. mutableair 32 months ago | reply

      Yes! I heard it too!

    19. SHRivver 32 months ago | reply

      You put this on the bottom of a lot of your photographs... "I post people's stories as they tell them to me. I am not a journalist. I don't try to verify, just listen." My english teacher told me when I turned something in, never apologize for who you are or what you write. What you are is amazing. Spending time with these lonely people and listening to them not only touches their hearts but it grips mine. You should be proud of what you do -- and a more positive way to say your closing: "I post people's stories as they tell them to me. I listen."

    20. cincinnati45214 31 months ago | reply

      My God, these stories are heart breaking. Having worked in a drug rehab for about a year, you realize that these people are kind, loving and some of the smartest people you will ever meet. The disease of addiction is real and I thank God quite often that I don't have that cross to bear. Reading these stories makes me think about Whitney, Michael, and many more stars, friends and family members who lost their lives to the disease of addiction.

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