My Year With Deborah

January 1st, 1986

It was move-in day and I was happy to get out of that awful place with the weird landlady. Deb and I had already checked out the new apartment and signed a one year lease. It was a ground floor, two bedroom, one bathroom unit with a private porch off to the side. She took the bedroom nearest the bathroom. Since the place was unfurnished, I had to purchase a bed and a desk — both second-hand. As Dad and I unloaded the loot from his truck, I noticed that there was only one dedicated parking space. Well, that could be a problem.

I spent the first night in my cold, sterile room. After the alarm went off, I got out of bed and began dressing. Midway through my routine, the quiet stillness of the air was cleaved, savagely, with the following utterance: “TODDY! TODDY!! COFFEE?!?!” I jumped backwards about three feet, startled by the harsh intensity of that voice. I had heard it before, but never with such force and stridency — and certainly not at 6 AM. Was she asking if I wanted coffee? Was she demanding that I make it? I figured I would venture outside my room to gauge the situation. She read my expression, and holding a Mr. Coffee carafe in mid-air, she asked, quietly this time, “Do you want coffee, Toddy?” “Uh-huh,” was all I could say.

It was going to be one of those years. The kind you write about thirty years later, with much sentimentality. That is, if you survive it.

Not long after we moved in, Deb and I started smoking marijuana together. It was a nightly ritual. Now I had smoked the stuff before for about two years, but certainly not every night. Occasionally, we would be joined by her friends and turn it into a full blown party. I would bring home a case of wine coolers we would get wasted. I noticed that my stress levels were somewhat lover when I was regularly smoking weed — even when I was stone-cold sober. I was also smoking cigarettes — a habit I picked up from my coworkers. My habit never required more than a pack a week.

That year Deb introduced me to “crank”, which was a street term for powdered methamphetamine. I remember her showing me how to chop it up with a credit card into fine lines and snort it with a rolled $1 bill. It burned like crazy, but the euphoria I felt afterwards was so worth it (at least I thought at the time). I had never felt more alive. One time, on a whim, I drove to Fremont “just because”. I had never been to that mysterious city in the East Bay. And now, with the radio blaring golden oldies, I was driving, blissfully, on highway 237. What I found when I got there was only slightly disappointing. I was starting to come down from the “high”. I later learned that the proper term was “crash”. I was thankful I didn’t crash my car during that drug-fueled sortie.

By now, it was Spring and there were still more adventures ahead of us.

TO BE CONTINUED

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