Albuquerque, NM – 1995
It was the last week of school and closing ceremonies had begun. Classes were light and assemblies and other activities filled our days. Because of certain recent events, my parents had taken to driving me to school in the morning and picking me up in the afternoons; they did not want me unsupervised, especially with Dan.
It was Monday of the last week. I knew that we had an assembly that afternoon at school and I was reasonably sure I would not be missed. As soon as my mom dropped me off, I circled down the soccer field to the ditch that ran to Lorna’s. Jeremy and Tiffany were supposed to join us there. We had decided on Friday that Lorna’s mom would call in for each of us so we could spend the day at her house getting high and having sex.
As soon as everyone was there, Lorna asked her mom to make the calls. When we originally made the plan, I was under the impression that her mother had already agreed to her role. But it now became apparent that her mother did not like the idea and wanted nothing to do with it. But it was too late; we had already missed morning class. If the school didn’t get a call explaining our tardiness, our parents would be notified.
I figured the best policy was to head back and be late. Jeremy came with me and we attended the next period before breaking for lunch. Knowing that the following period was an assembly, we ran to the edge of the soccer field during lunch and disappeared into the ditch. We smoked cigarettes and shared a joint; we made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed the afternoon away from school. We stayed under the bridge until the assembly was over and returned for the last class of the day.
We arrived to class high as a kite and tried to blend in and follow suit. Suddenly the vice principal entered the room. He motioned to our teacher that he needed to speak to Jeremy. I figured it was about his morning absence, and I was sure he would want to talk to me next.
I knew he would search our pockets, so as discreetly as I could I pulled my pipe and my cigarettes out of my pocket and tried to stick them into my boxer shorts down the front of my pants. But I was too high to be discreet: “Bring the cigarettes here.” I heard my teacher declare with authority. My heart dropped through my feet.
I concealed the pipe in my palm as I took the cigarettes to the front of the class. The first chance I had I dropped it back into my pocket. My teacher took the pack, told me to come with him and walked me to the vice principal’s office. Jeremy sat in a chair outside the office. He looked at me and saw the smokes in my teacher’s hand. He shook his head.
I sat down next to him as my teacher jokingly offered the secretary a smoke from my pack. They both laughed, and I knew that I would not be laughing for a long time. My teacher instructed me to wait for the vice principal and headed back to class.
Jeremy and I sat for twenty minutes or more waiting to be seen. The last bell of the day rang and Jeremy said “I think we can go now.” I wasn’t sure, but I thought my chances were better if I left than if I stayed. We waited until the coast was clear and bailed out of the office.
I ran outside to the spot where my mother picked me up after school. I was sober enough to act normal, but I was so nervous about the trouble I might be in that I could barely hold still. We made small talk about my day; for a while everything seemed like it would be ok. But as soon as we walked in the front door the phone rang. I was fucked.
The principal told my mother that I had missed class and was caught with contraband; I would be suspended through the last week of school. My parents were livid. I was grounded indefinitely. But like always, the real punishment was the shame and guilt.
The next was my first day of suspension. My brothers had started summer break the week earlier, so they were already home. In a shaming tone, my mother told me to explain to my brothers why I was home with them and not at school. With my head hung low I told them I had been suspended. One of them cried for me at the table. All he knew was that something horrible and shameful had happened. This is exactly what my mother wanted.
I was restricted to the house for the week of my suspension, and I barely left the house for most of the summer, unless I sneaked out at night. But it got worse: my parents decided to pull me out of school the following year and home school me. For the next six months I was only allowed three places: home, at church, or at the house of an approved friend under constant adult supervision.
To my friends, I simply dropped off the face of the planet. I couldn’t call them, I couldn’t see them, I had no way to tell them what had happened. All of my friends enjoyed their summer and began high school the following year. But for me, it was as if I had disappeared. I did not see Dan again as long as I was in Albuquerque.
The summer came and went. Home school began and proved to be pure hell. I would do school work all day until my dad came home. After dinner we would review the entire day’s lessons. This went poorly every night. There was no room for error. I was expected to get a hundred percent on everything. If I missed a problem or answered a question incorrectly, we would sit until it was right. This took up all the time between dinner and bed. It was torture.
One day, in order to save time and paper, I worked out some math problems in the margin of my text book. When my dad noticed he came unglued. He screamed bloody murder in my face about how he had planned on reselling the books. He was so mad that he dumped out the box of books out on the kitchen table and threw them against the wall. He nearly pounded the kitchen table off of its base and screamed himself hoarse. Several of the books were damaged beyond repair. I thought this was a strange reaction to light pencil sketches. This, of course, was not the real issue.
So it was that I was grounded through the summers and home schooled for the first semester of ninth grade. During this time I was allowed to join the wrestling team at the high school I would have attended. Twice a week I would go for practice and on weekends we would have meets. This was the only social time I got. I remember crying alone in my room at one point because I no longer had a single friend. Weeks went by without social contact.
As my only recourse I began sneaking out almost every night, sometimes on my own, sometimes with Jeremy. Four nights a week he would knock on my window and we would strike out into town, sometimes to Lorna’s, sometimes to the park. Some times we would just sit in the ditch behind my house and smoke. It was my only outlet.
As I lay in bed one night I heard him knock at my window. I locked my bedroom door and put a pile of pillows in the bed to look like a body. We headed down the ditch to determine what we would do for the night. Neither of us had cigarettes, nor pot. We bummed around under the bridge for a bit but it was boring. Before too long we decided to call it a night. We headed our separate ways and I headed home.
I returned home and climbed through the window. I got undressed and went to unlock my door. It was unlocked. “Strange,” I thought, “I’m sure I locked it.” I climbed into bed and looked at the pillows. They were arranged differently than I had left them.
Suddenly my door burst open and the light came on. My father raged into the room. I was fucked. He screamed bloody gore and tore my room to pieces. He demanded to know where I had been. I said in the ditch behind the house, but he had come out looking for me and seen I wasn’t there.
In a bluff I told them I was at Lorna’s. My dad called Lorna a bitch – one of the two times I ever heard him curse. He dragged me into the kitchen and called Lorna’s house. My mother reached her mother and berated her for her participation in our disobedience. The poor woman had no idea what my mom was referring to. I was forced to sleep in a sleeping bag on my parents floor for the rest of the week and with my bedroom door open from then on.
By the end of the fall semester, my dad got word that he was being transferred to Salt Lake City, Utah. We would be moving out of state by the first of the year. We packed and moved by January. I left town without ever saying goodbye to Dan or Jeremy. They didn’t even know I was moving.