All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

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The Dawning of a New Era

I had no dad, and he had no mom. That’s why we got each other.

He had a way older sister who had two kids, a toddler son and kindergarten daughter. She was his dad’s kid from a different woman than his mom. His dad had a revolving door of women: he traded them in for newer models all the time. There was constantly some strange new woman in Justin’s house. Often she was only a handful of years older than me.

His dad made his sex life no secret. Often we’d be watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air in his finished basement when Justin Senior would yell down to us, “Tracy and I will be upstairs,” meaning his bedroom. Justin Junior would roll his eyes to the ceiling and his face would darken. That kind of anger scared me; it was the hatred of someone who could kill.

Justin Senior was a passionate lover; there were always shrieks and thuds rumbling like thunder. It destroyed my boyfriend, but I didn’t care so much: I was too happy to have a nice place to go, food to eat, an unending supply of amusements. I could put up with just about anything.

Towards the end of the summer - just before school started - Justin began unraveling.

He started sneaking liquor from his father’s bar.

He started smoking pot.

Then snorting cocaine.

His poetry got blacker and blacker.

He listened to Kurt Cobain, in his room, with the lights off, by himself, for hours.

He slept until 2, napped at 7, woke up at 10, and went to bed at 6.

He hardly talked at all when we were together.

And finally,

on Labor Day weekend 1997,

he

took

everything

out

on

me.

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