It was the close of my 5th grade year. I remember mom announcing, once again, that we would be moving within the next week or so. With all of our belongings packed in black plastic garbage bags and the cars loaded, mom had just one more dilemma to solve; How to get both cars from Deer Lodge MT to Portland OR. Her asshole boyfriend, Bob, had flown out to Portland earlier and left the entire move and his truck in my mom’s care, a predicament she would need to figure out for herself. This alone would have been a tipping point for me but obviously, I had no say in who she dated. I’m not sure how many options my mother had exhausted when she came to the conclusion that Jerry, my newly 15 year old, unlicensed brother, would drive one car while she drove the truck, but I keep thinking that perhaps it was not enough.
Before we left, Jerry insisted that he visit his friend to say goodbye. It was early in the morning and mom said she’d give him a half an hour before we needed to get on the road. Jerry, once again, let me tag along but made me stay in the car while he met his friend. When Jerry returned to the car he threw a small plastic baggie at me. The baggie was filled with little white cross-topped pills. We sat in the early morning sun in his friend’s driveway and Jerry showed me how to crush the little pills with a spoon on a plastic plate, line the white powdery residue up in nice even lines and snort the little piles through a rolled up dollar bill. By the time we left and headed back to the house, I was feeling pretty high and excited.
With both vehicles loaded, mom and Jason in the truck and me and Jerry in the car, we caravanned through town toward the highway. This seemed simple enough, a ten-hour drive across a couple of states. I turned on the battery-powered cassette player as we entered the highway. We communed with the Ramones, Kiss and the New York Dolls until our batteries died, each song introducing our new life, our new adventure; the music and the speed foreshadowing the next chapters. Every couple of hours Jerry would ask me to prepare more lines and hold the rolled up bill to his nose while he diligently kept his eyes on the road.
We stayed high the entire trip and not surprisingly made the trip in record time. Every time we stopped for a break and mom asked how we were doing, we were happy to keep pressing on. The snakes in my hair demanded the wind rushing through the open windows and my consistent chattering was best suited for 60 MPH. She must have thought we were excited for the move.