by J. B.

I knew things had been strange, different but only slightly, like someone was trying to hide the differences from view.  In my freshman year of high school, I wasn’t sure what to make of things and deep down I knew that if and when these differences concerned me, I would find out exactly what was going on. My older sister had gone to college in Oklahoma last summer and while I was confident that something was going on behind the scenes, I was equally as confident my sister didn’t have a clue. For the past year she had been immersed in all the things involved with choosing, applying for, and arranging to go to school in another state.  For an 18 year old girl that lived her whole life in Houston, moving to Norman and going to OU had consumed her to the point of blindness to the subtle changes around her.  But not me, I didn’t know what or why, but things had begun to change over the past year or two.

It came as little surprise when Dad pulled me aside, just the two of us, and told me that he and Mom were headed downhill and towards divorce.  I had been watching him try to rekindle things and seen Mom essentially shut down. When we went on a cruise to the Caribbean with all my aunts, uncles, and grandparents in June of 2002, and Mom had stayed inside reading books and avoiding all of us, we knew.

I checked out on many levels.  I didn’t fully understand it all and I knew damn good and well there were key details they were hiding from me.  I did see Mom working harder to end things than to save them. Why would she do that to me? To the family? They had been married over twenty years, wasn’t that worth fighting for?  Situations like those call for a stiff drink.

September 7, 2007 was a beautiful day.  On August 21st I had turned 21 and since I had been frequenting the same bars for years due to being underage, I could now get drunk in any bar I so desired.  My girlfriend called, so I took the Z28 from my place in The Woodlands to meet her and some friends at Westfield’s for booze, billiards, and shuffleboard. On the way there I lined up with a Z06 Corvette, my dream car, and while I knew my Camaro couldn’t win, it is still a 315 horsepower V8 rear wheel drive sports car and good lord was it fun to let it run!  I lost the race and put myself in a fantastic mood at the same time, I love a good race and it always seemed to flood me with adrenaline, leaving me with a rush like no other.

Westfield’s was a blast; I had five or six shots and a handful of mixed drinks. On top of my adrenaline high from the race, nothing could go wrong! We left the bar for the home of the friends we were with, where I had one more drink before my girl and I headed for home in our separate cars.

My god I hate hangovers. Where am I?  Oh shit, this is jail. What happened?  I called Jason, he didn’t know but he would call Tiff.  I speak to one of the jailers, Assault of a Police Officer is a felony. The first offer was 5 years in prison and my lawyer got it down to 3 years deferred adjudication, October 17th I got out of jail and began the 36 month period, as well as started at the top of the three page list of conditions of my probation.  It was going to be tough with a suspended driver’s license and no job.

I finally got off probation! And I got off early! That had to have been the hardest 33 months of my whole life. After all the anger management, community service hours, drug tests, fines, drug and alcohol classes, probation officer visits, a letter of apology to the Sheriff’s Deputy I supposedly kicked, and even getting my stupid GED, it’s all done. A crying shame my lawyer couldn’t prove that it was all just officers covering their asses after shooting me with that stupid taser gun but whatever, it’s all over now.  I’m free and clear to do whatever I want!  Drink anywhere, smoke hootie, hell I can even leave Harris County without writing the court asking permission!  Free at last, Free at last!

“Oh my god baby I’m so proud of you!!”” Sarah said, although it makes me feel weird. All I did was enroll in a pair of classes at the community college but she acted like I just cured cancer.  “Now if you put your nose to the grindstone you can get your Bachelors degree before you turn 30!!” Ha! Its unbelievable how she got so excited about that stuff, I hadn’t even started my first class and she was talking about being done with a Mechanical Engineering degree. Why couldn’t she just take things one at a time?

I’m just glad the court made me get my GED, that’s one less thing I had to do in the aggravating enrollment process. Two more years and I’ll have the deferred adjudication expunged from my record and put the whole damn thing behind me, and on top of that, it will be expunged before I finish my degree. That is the last obstacle to getting a job I can keep and putting a misspent youth in a place to be learned from but never duplicated.

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