I was almost 16 and had spent my life to that point drug-free. In fact, I hated drugs and people who did them. But that changed because drugs quickly became a way to bond with Jamie, who had been around drug-addicts her entire life and used plenty herself. I used to hate those days when I knew she was with her mom smoking weed or whatever, and that that part of her life didn’t include me. So I started doing drugs too. We started out smoking weed one day. Then I started taking ecstasy, mushrooms and acid on a daily basis. We even used opium once in a while. I never got into heroin or cocaine, but the drugs we did do were enough.
I had already graduated high school because I skipped two grades, but not because I was a straight A student or anything. I didn’t have any interest in school, and my mom always wanted me to be honest with her.
“If you don’t want to go to school, don’t lie to me,” she told me. “Don’t go.” So she talked my principal into letting me take all my exams early, without having to sit through classes until I was 18. And I passed.
Since I had no money left I figured I would try to earn some cash working on computers. I started making $300 to $500 per month to cover my $80 per month share of the rent. We all ate little more than microwave dinners with a slice of toast each day, so food didn’t cost much. The rest of my money went toward buying drugs, and more drugs. After a little while Jamie and I started having lots of issues. Our fights got abusive, on her end and mine. I didn’t know how to treat women back then. Sometimes I was verbally abusive. Then she would hit me, and I’d slap her back.
One night, one of my best friends, Tommy, stayed over. He, Jamie and I spent the night smoking weed and dropping acid. That morning, my cousin called me and told me his girlfriend cheated on him and he needed my support. We met at a condo pool nearby, and I tried my best to calm him down.
“Do you think your girl would ever cheat on you?” he asked me. In my mind it wasn’t possible; I couldn’t conceive of that happening even though my relationship with Jamie had already turned volatile and abusive. After an hour of trying to console him, we both went back to my trailer. We walked in to see Jamie’s pants hanging low, partially exposing her ass, and Tommy suddenly rushed out.
My cousin looks at me. “You see?” he said. But neither his words nor the implications of what we walked in on registered with me at that moment.